‘Brexit impact on radiotherapy still unclear’

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

Calls are being made for the British and Irish governments to explicitly confirm that Brexit won’t impact the new cancer treatment centre in Altnagelvin.

The plan for the new radiotherapy centre is to draw patients from both sides of the UK and Irish border. However, Donegal County Council are now calling for both the British and Irish governments to confirm that those plans have not been put in jeopardy by Brexit.

The Chief Executive of the Western Trust, Elaine Way, recently told the Health Committee at Stormont that she would be “pushing hard” for the cross-border co-operation to continue in spite of Brexit. However, she stopped short of giving official confirmation that would be the case.

Ms Way also suggested 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.

The Department of Health in Northern Ireland also issued a recent statement confirming that “Brexit will have no impact on the construction and opening of this facility” but, again, failed to confirm that it would be open to patients from both sides of the border.

Donegal County Council have now taken the step of writing to officials in both jurisdictions, calling for official confirmation that the multi-million pound cancer treatment centre would be “available to all” and that Brexit would not have any “derailing effects”.

Donegal County Councillor Gerry McMonagle said: “It is a big concern because people aren’t sure what Brexit is going to mean in real terms.

“I don’t think people have put a plan together for what a Brexit would mean and we can’t get answers. You keep hearing ‘I believe it will go ahead’, ‘it is planned to go ahead’, or ‘it is my understanding’ but both governments need to give us official confirmation. They need to just come out and say it - put it in writing.

“They’re at the stage now that they’ve already started building it and they can’t stop now. People are being recruited to work in it but they still need to come out and say ‘yes, this service will be able to be used by all of the people of the North West’.”