Breast cancer unit receives £500,000


Portlaoise General Hospital Committee has won what appears to be a major victory in its fight to have the town's breast cancer unit retained.

The pioneering unit, which was set up in the 1980s, was under threat as a result of a rationalisation of the service in the midlands region.

There had been plans to centralise treatment for breast cancer in Tullamore, Co Offaly, drawing together the services in Laois, Longford and Westmeath in a single unit.

But last week, following intense pressure from the local committee, the Minister for Health, Mr Martin, announced he had allocated £500,000 to the unit.

Welcoming the announcement, Ms Kathleen O'Brien, joint chairwoman of the committee, called on the health board to provide intravenous chemotherapy in the unit.

Ms O'Brien said there was no reason this should not now be done following the injection of money into the unit.

This is the second time in the recent past that there has been good news for the hospital, which locals fear is being downgraded in favour of Tullamore Hospital.

The Minister recently announced £25 million in funding for the extension and upgrading of the hospital.

There have been a number of meetings in Portlaoise in support of the hospital. Meanwhile, the Athlone Action Committee is increasing pressure to have its hospital upgraded and has planned a series of marches early in the new year.