Press Release

Minister Micheál Martin, T.D. announces the approval of 130 staff and full year revenue funding of €15 million for the Radiation Oncology Departments in Galway and Cork

  • 2,500 new cancer patients from the Western, Mid-Western, North-Western, Southern and South-Eastern Health regions to be treated each year, commencing in early 2005
  • Five additional Linear Accelerators to be provided
  • 130 additional staff approved across the disciplines of Radiation Oncology, Radiation Therapy, Nursing,  Physics, Dosimetry, Engineering, Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy
  • Full year revenue funding of €15 million approved
  • €1million capital funding for the development of a National Telesynergy Network for Radiation Oncology Services.

Micheál Martin TD, Minister for Health and Children today announced the approval of over 130 additional staff and full-year revenue funding of approximately €15 million to open the new Radiation Oncology Department in University College Hospital Galway and to expand capacity at Cork University Hospital.  There are currently eight linear accelerators nationally and these developments will provide an additional five.  Five additional Consultant Radiation Oncologists are being recruited to provide these services.

The Minister reiterated the Government’s commitment to the provision of high quality multi-disciplinary oncology services and said “these centres will collectively have the staff and treatment infrastructure to permit a rapid increase in patient access to appropriate radiation therapy and will form the ´backbone´ of the future service expansion”.

The Radiotherapy Departments in Galway and Cork will provide patient centred care to patients within the Western, Mid-Western, North-Western, Southern and South-Eastern Health regions.  The unit in University College Hospital Galway will treat 2,000 new cancer patients each year and cater for in excess of 20,000 daily treatment visits per year.  The expansion in Cork University Hospital will cater for an additional 500 new cancer patients each year and approximately 5,000 daily treatment visits, representing an increase of 25% on the current activity of the unit.

Commenting on the expansion at Cork University Hospital, the Minister said: “Earlier this year, I approved the purchase of two additional linear accelerators for the Cork centre and the necessary capital investment amounting to €4million to commission this service as rapidly as possible.  In 2004, €1million on-going revenue funding was made available for the development of these services at Cork University Hospital.  I have now approved the appointment of 29 staff for this unit and additional on-going revenue funding of €2 million to cater for this expansion.  Following a three month commissioning period, the first unit will be ready to treat patients in early 2005.”

In relation to the West, the Minister said that to date €14 million capital funding has been invested in the development of radiation oncology services in Galway.  “I have prioritised the necessary resources to ensure that the radiation oncology centre in Galway, which is currently being commissioned, is in a position to treat patients, commencing early in 2005.  Earlier this year, €2.5 million on-going revenue funding was made available for these services.  I have now given approval for the appointment of 102 staff for this unit, together with additional on-going revenue funding of €9.5 million.”

The implementation of the Hollywood Report is being progressed under the auspices of the National Radiation Oncology Co-ordinating Group.  The Group is the first truly national structure that brings together experts from existing service providers, in Dublin, Cork and Galway.  It also has representatives from other regions that are familiar with the issues and difficulties of access to existing radiation oncology services.  The Group is currently progressing the development of a National Teleysynergy Network for Oncology Services.  The aim of the network is to improve service delivery and efficiency, to better use consultant’s time, reduce consultant and patient travel, and support earlier and better diagnosis.

Commenting on the importance of equity in the provision of radiotherapy the Minister said: “Patients of equal need should have equal access to radiotherapy.  This is all the more pressing as we do not have adequate radiotherapy provision.  Geography will not be a barrier to equal access.  I expect the Group to advise and ‘equity-proof’ current and emerging services.  Pragmatic examination and advice to improve access, transport and accommodation are also within the remit of the Group.”

In conclusion, the Minister said “this investment represents a concrete manifestation of this Government’s commitment to greatly expand access to radiotherapy services across the country.”