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Funding for dedicated cancer care facility in Galway

Development of a dedicated cancer centre at University Hospital Galway “passed the first hurdle” this week as the project was included in the HSE’s Capital Plan.

The document, which sets out the health service’s annual plan for capital investment, commits to furthering the design feasibility of the project this year.

Minister of State Anne Rabbitte (FF) said its inclusion was a welcome step forward for what she believed would be a “beacon of best practice” in cancer care for the region.

“Ultimately, the Cancer Care centre would include operating theatres inpatient ward accommodation, an ambulatory day care centre and associated diagnostics.

“There’s now funding set aside for initiating the design feasibility in 2023 which I’m sure will be progressed as quickly as possible,” said the Galway East TD.

This comes following years of campaigning by health care professionals and local representatives who have highlighted inequality in access to treatment for cancer patients in the West.

As reported by the Connacht Tribune last week, cancer sufferers in the West have poorer survival rates than those elsewhere in the country, with Saolta Health Care Group CEO, Tony Canavan, stating that “infrastructural challenges” were impacting on care delivery.

“Later presentation [with symptoms], geographic dispersion, aging population and deprivation index all contribute to the cancer incidence and outcomes in the Saolta region,” he said.

Minister Rabbitte said when the cancer centre was delivered, patients in the West would have a world-class service – and she would be demanding funding was secured to not only plan the centre, but deliver it.

“Over the past twelve months, I have been working with officials in the Department of Health, the HSE at a national and local level, as well as the Saolta Group, clinicians in Galway and Cancer Care West to advance this project.

“This is a pivotal development for cancer patients in Galway and, once finally commissioned, will need hundreds of millions invested to deliver a world-class cancer centre at the hospital,” she said.

The annual HSE Capital Plan announced on Monday also included for the extension of the Emergency Department at Portiuncula Hospital.

Minister Rabbitte said the extension would ease pressure on the ED and followed significant investment already made in the Ballinasloe hospital.

“This is an issue I raised with the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar during his visit to the hospital earlier this year. This comes on top of the 50-bed ward block that’s under construction, as well as the additional rooms in the outpatients’ department being delivered,” she said.

“These are two important developments for Galway and I will continue to work with the various stakeholders to ensure that progress is made to bring these projects through to construction.”

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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