Brexit can’t stop life-saving cross border services

An artist's impression of how the new Radiotherapy Unit will look.
An artist's impression of how the new Radiotherapy Unit will look.

Life-saving co-operation between the health authorities in Londonderry and Donegal cannot be disrupted by Brexit, according to the Western Trust Chief Executive Elaine Way, who made the comments in a personal capacity when pressed at the Stormont Health Committee by Foyle MLA Mark H. Durkan.

Ms Way was reluctant to get involved in the rights or wrongs of Brexit, stating, “Oh gosh, Mark. I am going to have to be political here,” when asked about the implications of the referendum result on cross-border co-operation in relation to the new radiotherapy unit and state-of-the-art cath lab service.

But Ms Way went on to say cross-border co-operation cannot be jeopardised by Brexit.

She said it would be difficult to sustain a full range of acute hospital services with the Trust’s small core population of 300,000 people but for the addition of 110,000 patients from Donegal, on top of patients from the Northern Trust.

“I described it clearly as a win-win situation for both of us, because it allows Altnagelvin to have the full range of acute services and that population base and it allows people in Donegal to access high-quality services on very easily,” said Ms Way.

In reference to the Brexit vote, Ms Way said: “Personally, I do not believe that either jurisdiction should allow any result from a referendum to get in the way of that important work. I have said to previous Health Ministers in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland that this opportunity saves lives.

“Therefore, for as long as I am Chief Executive, no matter what the decision is, I will be pushing hard to continue this vital work.”