Tuesday, October 23, 2007


A rally is to take place this Sunday (October 28) to protest against the withdrawal of cancer services from Mayo General Hospital (pictured here) in Castlebar, Ireland and to demand that the Health Service Executive (HSE) retain and expand existing cancer services at the Castlebar hospital.

A spokesperson for the HSE said that the treatment of symptomatic breast disease would be best delivered at eight designated Specialist Cancer Centres. Services will be withdrawn from hospitals, which do not meet the defined criteria for delivery of symptomatic breast care,

The news that the cancer services would be shut down in Mayo soon has drawn considerable ire.

“One of the biggest elements in combating cancer is prompt diagnosis and subsequent treatment. While UCHG (University College Hospital Galway) will become a centre of excellence for cancer care, we want services at MGH retained and expanded. A multi-disciplinary team of health professionals meet each week at MGH to discuss cancer patient care and treatment and if we lose this it has huge consequences for all cancer patients in Mayo who are facing the ordeal of travelling long distances to UCHG for regular treatment, not to mention joining long waiting lists,” Mayo Breast Cancer Support Group spokesperson, Mary McGreal told the Mayo News. “It is absolutely vital that we retain the services at MGH and I would appeal to the general public to come along on Sunday and join the protest march and demand the retention of all cancer care services at MGH,” said Mary.

Cancer survivors, women, doctors and students have all lined up to denounce the move to close the service.

Castlebar students, who were outraged when they learned that the breast cancer services at Mayo General Hospital are to close, have petitioned their classmates and teachers to highlight the issue.

Over 489 signatures were collected by the students of St Joseph’s Secondary School just last Monday reports the Mayo Advertiser.

In a letter to Leader of the Fine Gael Party, Deputy Enda Kenny, the students said the closure of the cancer care services are of concern to them, the future generation.

“We feel so strongly regarding this situation that we have initiated a petition to register the grievances of the students and staff of St Joseph’s Secondary School,” they told Dep Kenny.

They said they wish for the service to remain open to assist the people of Mayo and north west Connnacht and urged Dep Kenny to work in their behalf to retain this unit.

Dr Tony O’Brien, Chief Executive of the National Cancer Screening Service, said he is a member of the group that would make the decision on the withdrawal of cancer services from Castlebar, and no such decision has yet been made.

However, it was made clear that it is the intention of the HSE, in line with their national policy, to have 90 per cent of cancer services and treatments in this region carried out in University College Hospital Galway by 2010.

In a statement released on October 15th, Deputy Enda Kenny indicated that the HSE, acting on the instructions of the Government, planned to end all breast cancer services in Mayo General Hospital ‘inside three months’.

Three months or three years doesn't matter say those who want the unit to remain open.

“By any criteria, by any audit of performance, by fact of survival rates, Mayo General Hospital stands on its merits and on its integrity. That is because it has been closely linked to UCHG for many years and because of its proven reputation and results,” Deputy Kenny said.

The following is from the Connaught Telegraph (Ireland).

Rally to oppose cancer unit closure

THE diminution of cancer services at Mayo General Hospital, Castlebar, must be opposed at every level.

There are serious questions to be answered as to why it has to be axed, depriving the women of Mayo of a service on their doorsteps.

Thousands of euro have been raised voluntary countywide for the upgrading of the unit in Castlebar and it must be asked what will happen that funding if services are transferred to Galway.

Those who dug deep in their pockets and the committees and individuals who collected will not accept the transfer of services or funds to Galway.

The uproar as to the timescale of the closure is clouding the debate, which must centre on the fact that the future of the unit is sealed.

It does not matter if it will be terminated in three months of three years. The reality is closure.

There are few of us who have not been touched by the ravages that cancer brings and we all appreciate the tremendous work being done by the medical staff at the unit in Mayo General.

The Mayo Breast Cancer Support Group is holding a public protest in Castlebar on Sunday to oppose the closure of the unit.

We urge every man, woman and child to attend the rally which will assemble at Swimming Pool Road in Castlebar at 2.30 p.m. and will proceed through the town to the TF Royal Theatre, opposite the hospital.

This is an opportunity for everyone to demonstrate their outrage to the HSE that we do not want to lose this valuable service.

The women of Mayo have a right to be treated in their own county. The people have voted by supporting the fundraising campaigns to enhance services at Mayo General, something that should be forthcoming from the exchequer.

This outrageous decision has to be reversed. It is up to our politicians, particularly those in government, to make a stand and ensure the cancer unit is not alone retained in Mayo but is upgraded and secured so those who need the service can avail of it in Mayo.

A huge show of support on Sunday will send the right message to the powers that be that the people of Mayo will not accept any cutback in cancer services.

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