A public rally event in Armagh aimed at showing support for the retention of vital breast cancer services in Craigavon heard how the removal of the centre would be “a step too far”.
Hundreds packed into the City Hotel on Wednesday night to hear testimony from those campaigning to save the service locally.
Among them were Newry and Armagh DUP MLA William Irwin MLA and his colleague Alderman Gareth Wilson.
The pair described the meeting as powerful and said everyone in attendance spoke with one voice.
Under current proposals there are plans to centralise at three instead of five sites which would mean services being lost to Craigavon.
Read more: Keeping all five breast cancer assessment units open ‘not realistic or responsible option’
It would mean further travelling distances for patients to be seen and the proposals have understandably led to a public backlash.
Councillor Wilson was full of praise for Consultant Breast Surgeon Helen Mathers, who spoke to the packed house, giving a very important insight into the service she leads at Craigavon Area Hospital.
“This was a very informative and positive meeting and it was very encouraging to hear just how successful this service is based in Craigavon and how it is meeting and exceeding its targets,” they said.
“This type of efficiency is not easily achieved given the pressures in the health service and it is testament to the very hard working staff who operate this service at each level that it runs so well.”
The elected representatives added: “It was a very powerful meeting where we heard from clinicians right at the forefront of the service delivery and also from women who are receiving treatment.
“We heard very powerful testimonies from those who have received treatment as to exactly why this service must be retained at Craigavon. People spoke with one voice.
“To see a service which covers such a huge geographical area removed would be a travesty and simply a step too far.
“We were able to voice our support for the service and we thank the dedicated health professionals who have made this service a success.
“It really does have to be retained and we urge people to please take the time to fill in the consultation.”
You can view the consultation documentation here.
More: Armagh breast cancer patient urges public meeting support to save Craigavon unit from axe