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Breast cancer assessment centre at Craigavon Area Hospital could close under consolidation proposals

Cancer charity welcomes proposal saying 'women will be seen much quicker'

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A breast cancer assessment centre at Craigavon Area Hospital could close.

Proposals have gone out to consultation which would see the number of such centres in Northern Ireland cut from five to three.

The centres at Altnagelvin, on the Glenshane Road in Derry/Londonderry, as well as at Antrim Area Hospital and the Ulster Hospital in Dundonald, would stay open.

But both Craigavon and Belfast City Hosptial could lose their assessment centres.

The proposal, if implemented, would mean further travel distances for patients for assessment.

But it does not affect screening, only assessment, which is for additional testing after the initial screening.

The Department of Health insists that it will not lead to a reduction in the assessment target time for patients of two weeks.

The proposal is going out to a 12-week period of public consultation.

Cancer charities have welcomed the move.

Heather Monteverde, Head of Services for Macmillan in Northern Ireland, said: “By concentrating resources in fewer sites, women will be seen much quicker

“Those who don’t have a cancer diagnosis will get the reassurance they need and those who do will start treatment sooner and get the necessary support and care.

“As the cancer landscape changes and demand for services continues to increase, the status quo is no longer acceptable. We cannot keep doing things the way we always have done or our health and social care system will continue to deteriorate.

“It’s also more important than ever to recognise that everyone’s experience and need will be different.

“We welcome the fact that the review has benefitted from strong levels of patient engagement and that the voice of the people affected by cancer has been fundamental to the process.”

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