Northern Ireland

No guarantee Derry cancer centre will be built

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

The Assembly's new health minister said he cannot guarantee the radiotherapy unit at Altnagelvin Hospital will go ahead.

Edwin Poots said it was a top priority but he wanted to study the business case before taking a final decision.

The centre 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 Poots said he hoped to make a decision in the next few weeks.

"It's top of my in-tray. What I can't do is give a cast-iron guarantee without having seen all the documentation and papers around this issue," said Mr Poots.

Adequate Funding

"Ultimately, what I will seek to do is to ensure there is adequate funding available to do this which doesn't compromise other elements of the health service. If that is possible I will be very keen to ensure that this goes ahead."

People in Londonderry have to make a 200-mile round trip to the cancer centre in Belfast for treatment.

Mr Poots said that could not continue.

"I'm going to visit Altnagelvlin today just to see how things are on the ground," he said.

"I intend to visit the City Hospital cancer centre in the next few days to identify what their needs and demands are, and what their capacity is going to be for the future."

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