Northern Ireland

Altnagelvin Hospital confident over radiotherapy unit

Altnagelvin Hospital
Image caption The Health Minister Edwin Poots said he can't guarantee the radiotherapy centre at Altnagelvin Hospital will be built.

The chair of the Western Trust has said he is confident the radiotherapy unit at Altnagelvin Hospital will go-ahead.

Gerard Guckin said he believed its future was more secure after the health minister, Edwin Poots, visited the hospital on Tuesday.

Mr Poots said he could not guarantee the cancer centre until he studied the finances, but insisted it was a top priority.

He said he would make a decision in the next fortnight.

Mr Guckin said the minister was right to look again at the project before making a final decision.

"We're quite satisfied that the minister is going to look at all the facts and figures relating to this development and we remain confident that when he does that he will absolutely give it the go-ahead," he said.

"I think on the first day of his office it's entirely appropriate for him to have a look at any project being proposed and exercise his discretion whether it should go ahead or not."

Budget

The radiotherapy unit was put on hold in March after the previous health minister, Michael McGimpsey, said he did not have enough money in his budget to run it.

Mr Guckin said it was crucial for cancer patients.

"We are absolutely confident that this development in particular will stand on its own merits given that the capacity in Northern Ireland will run out in 2016.

"There is also the added incentive of catering for Donegal patients who will now have to travel only to Derry instead of Dublin," he said.

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