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Galway Senator secures state funding that offers comfort to cancer patients

Funding has been announced for scalp-cooling technology to prevent hair-loss in cancer treatment following a campaign by a Galway senator.

Senator Pauline O’Reilly told the Connacht Tribune that Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, confirmed to her that on foot of a motion she placed before the Seanad, the technology, which is an optional treatment for those undergoing chemotherapy, would be funded for oncology centres nationwide.

University Hospital Galway and Portiuncula in Ballinasloe were among several locations where the cold caps were not being offered to patients, but both hopital’s oncology units can now avail of funding from the Department of Health.

Proposing a motion in the Seanad at the end of last year, Senator O’Reilly described the unavailability of the service to cancer patients in Galway as an “unfair situation” and highlighted that the provision of the service was “relatively cheap”.

“I’m delighted to confirm that the Minister contacted me this week to say that the service would be funded at all hospitals. Galway had been particularly poorly served as it wasn’t in UHG or Portiuncula,” she said, adding that it had been a “postcode lottery” as the treatment was available in a number of hospitals on the east coast.

Each unit, which can treat two people at a time, costs around €20,000 to procure and as it is for those already undergoing chemotherapy, there is “no large requirement in terms of additional personnel”.

Senator O’Reilly, who is the Green Party candidate in the European Elections for Midlands-North West, said the funding was to be made available to all hospitals immediately and it would be up to the hospitals to draw it down as soon as possible.

“Losing your hair through cancer treatments is often one of the most difficult side effects that people have to deal with.

“For many people, and women in particular, their hair is an important part of who they are and retaining it can help them retain their dignity during a very difficult time,” said Senator O’Reilly.

“When given the option, many people will choose to use the cold cap treatment so it is excellent news that now they can have that option”.

Pictured: Campaigner….Senator Pauline O’Reilly.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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