Health Minister visits Regional Cancer Centre

Date published: 25 November 2016


Health Minister Michelle O’Neill has visited the NI Regional Cancer Centre at Belfast City Hospital today.

The Minister visited the Bridgewater Suite, where the majority of cancer outpatients receive their chemotherapy treatment and the Radiotherapy Unit, one of the largest in Ireland and Britain which currently treats more than 5,000 new patients every year.

Michelle O’Neill said: “Meeting the challenges posed by cancer is a key priority and we have made great strides in tackling this. Cancer services have been reorganised so that professionals with an expertise in treating the most common cancers are brought together. Patients treated by cancer specialists working as a team are known to have better outcomes.

“I am privileged to have been able to visit our Regional Cancer Centre today and I am impressed by the dedication and professionalism of everyone involved in delivering this vital service to our cancer patients, from the friendly receptionists and porters to the expert oncologists and haematologists, all of whom look after cancer patients and their families and friends. The Cancer Centre here at the Belfast City Hospital is the primary specialist centre for cancer care delivering the most complex cancer therapies on a regional basis.”

Over the past 20 years, survival rates have improved from 43% in 1993-99, to 54.3% in 2005-09.  Michelle O’Neill continued: “Cancer survival rates are better now than they ever have been. This indicates that things are changing for the better. I was delighted to visit the new £66million North West Cancer Centre at Altnagelvin Hospital earlier this week. This is a great example of all island collaboration, with radiotherapy to be provided to patients in the North West when the service starts later this month.”

While at Belfast City Hospital, Minister O’Neill met with Colleen Shaw, Chief Executive of Friends of the Cancer Centre as well as staff at the Centre who are funded by the charity. The Minister also had an opportunity to write her own ‘Wish Upon a Star’ message which was hung on the Centre’s Christmas Tree.

The Minister continued: “My Department, in collaboration with Macmillan Cancer Support and the Friends of the Cancer Centre, recently announced an £11.5million expansion to the specialist cancer nursing workforce, creating around 60 new specialist cancer nursing and support worker posts over the next five years.”

The Minister also met with individuals involved with the Clinical Trials Network, where she was able to talk to those who play vital role in the global search for cancer cures.

Dr Michael McBride Chief Executive of the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust said: “I am delighted that Minister O’Neill has taken the time today to visit the Cancer Centre which is also a leading clinical research facility. Today has provided an opportunity for the Minister to see first-hand the tremendous work carried out by our specialist multidisciplinary teams every day in the centre.”

Notes to editors: 

  • The Cancer Centre opened in March 2006 at a cost of £60 million. Since then 150,000 people attend the Cancer Centre for treatment each year. The development of the centre has been a success story and has helped to transform the way cancer is treated. It has led to increased service activity, service modernisation, improved patient pathways and greater access to the latest techniques and treatments.
  • The Bridgewater Suite is open Monday to Friday, 8.00am to 6.30pm, comprising 31 treatment spaces (22 chairs and 9 beds). Each week there are approximately 45 chemotherapy assessment clinics, with up to 100 new patients attending each week and approximately 900 – 1,000 patients attending for a review appointment.
  • Media enquiries about this press release to DoH Press Office on 028 9052 0074, or out of office hours contact to Duty Press Officer via pager number 07623 974383 and your call will be returned. Follow us on Twitter @healthdpt

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