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Thursday, 10 May, 2001, 16:37 GMT 17:37 UK
'New cancer equipment needed'
Patient receiving radiotherapy
Delays in treatment have been criticised
The Department of Health has said it is giving urgent consideration to buying more than a million pounds worth of radiotherapy equipment for Belvoir Park Hospital in Belfast.

The news was given to the Northern Ireland Assembly's Health Committee on Thursday, following criticism by assembly members of delays in treatment at Belvoir because of broken equipment.

The site at Belvoir, which houses Northern Ireland's only radiotherapy facility, is due to close when a new cancer centre at the City Hospital is complete.

Much of the radiotherapy equipment at the site has reached the end of its recommended shelf life.

Dr Russell Houston, clinical director at Belvoir, said it was essential they had the right equipment to maintain and develop their service at the hospital.

"I have every confidence that the new cancer centre at the City Hospital will provide the right level of facilities and support in the future.

It has a terrible effect on patient's anxieties about treatment

Dr Russell Houston Belvoir Hospital
"But for the next few years we are very worried about the old equipment in Belvoir Park and our ability to keep treating people properly," he said.

He added that they were looking forward to speedy decision, and that too many patients had to wait several weeks to start treatment.

"That may not have a disastrous effect on their disease but it has a terrible effect on their anxieties about treatment," he said.

On Wednesday, John McGrath of the Department of Health said they had asked the City Hospital, which will be the site of a regional cancer centre, to give them a case for an interim investment at Belvoir Park.

He said an additional linear accelerator may be put onto the Belvoir site - an investment of 1.8 million.

"That would buttress service at Belvoir, provide new technology and underpin the services at Belvoir over the next three or four years to allow the development on the City hospital to go ahead," he said.

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New 4m facility for cancer care
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