Northern Ireland

UUP's Terry Wright quits in radiotherapy unit row

Terry Wright
Image caption Terry Wright has resigned as deputy chair of the Ulster Unionist Party

The Ulster Unionist Party's deputy chair has resigned over the health minister's decision to postpone a new radiotherapy unit at Altnagelvin Hospital in Londonderry.

Terry Wright, said the decision by the UUP's Michael McGimpsey was wrong.

He said it was "symptomatic of the erratic workings of an assembly that is not working as envisaged".

The minister had said that there was not enough money in the health department's budget to fund the unit.

In a statement Mr Wright said his position had become "untenable" after what he described as an "ill-advised and untimely" decision by Michael McGimpsey.

He said he personally knew what benefit the unit would have had for people needing treatment for cancer.

'Erratic workings'

"Having had close family and friends required to make the journey to Belfast for treatment at the radiotherapy centre in Belfast," he said.

"I am therefore fully aware of the vital benefits which a different decision would have made. I regard this as an opportunity missed and one which tests my loyalty to the party.

"The decision, which I hope even now can be reversed, is clearly symptomatic of the erratic workings of an assembly that is not working as envisaged."

Mr Wright said he would remain as a member of the UUP and chair of the Foyle branch of the party.

Announcing his decision to shelve the plan on Wednesday, Mr McGimpsey said he was committed to ensuring that people with cancer in Northern Ireland had access to radiotherapy services.

The minister said he would make arrangements to introduce two new radiotherapy machines at Belfast City Hospital over the next two years.

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