Donegal Action for Cancer Care met with key EU representatives in Brussels during their two day visit this week.
The organisation was supported by MEP Matt Carthy who invited them to Brussels and funded the trip. Carthy will now also table a question for DACC addressing their concerns.
Betty Holmes of DACC says: “For DACC we want the people on both sides of the border to realise Brexit is coming to your door and we believe cross border health care is not being talked or included as it should be.
“While DACC’s focus is on cross border health we want people to be clear about the impact that a hard border could have for us in Donegal; the six counties is a human rights issue.
“While our trip to Brussels was a whirlwind one, we had many important meetings with key individuals.”
The DACC map was shown to demonstrate the importance of cross-border healthcare due to Donegal’s distance from Centres of Excellence, and the map was received with surprise.
“The DACC map made a big impression on those that we met it was like the visual realisation of where Donegal is in the context of the six counties. The map highlighted the eight Centres of Excellence below the Dublin / Galway line with us being asked why there was none above this line.
“We were able to highlight our concerns and we referred to the European Commission on effective, accessible and resilient health systems.
“Health systems must be accessible. This is one of the principles stated in the European Social Charter, which emphasises the importance of transparent criteria for access to medical treatment and the obligation for States to have adequate healthcare system which does not exclude parts of the population from receiving healthcare services. For us, Donegal patients who are EU Citizens, will be excluded post-Brexit!
“We also raised our concerns that a Brexit agreement would be reached and post-Brexit in 2019 when we would raise some concerns about cross border health we would be told by the UK Government “that this is what the Irish Government agreed to”.
“On our return we have written to Minister Simon Coveney TD, Tánaiste, and Minister for Foreign Affairs & Trade with Responsibility for Brexit with our urgent meeting request. We have also asked Minister Joe Mc Hugh TD for his help with this and have to say Minister Mc Hugh TD & his team have given us commitment that they will help with this urgent request.”
The key concerns of DACC are outlined by Betty Holmes:
• The two Linear Radiotherapy Units at Altnagelvin Hospital that the Irish Government made a considerable investment (€19 million) for Donegal cancer patients, what happens post-Brexit March 2019? Without a critical mass how will the Radiotherapy Unit at Altnagelvin Hospital function post-Brexit? We highlighted the fact that there is a Memorandum of Understanding for 25 years regarding cross border Health.
• The service agreement that is in place between the Irish & Stormont Governments for 348 Donegal cancer patients to have their Radiotherapy at Altnagelvin Hospital, how will this be protected?
• Will Donegal cancer patients be able to access Radiotherapy at Altnagelvin post Brexit?
• Can medical information sharing continue across the Border post Brexit?
• Cross border cardiac services for Donegal patients – how will this be able to continue?
• What impact will there be on Ambulances crossing the border to Altnagelvin? Will ambulances from the 6 counties be able to attend RTAs and medical emergencies in Donegal and take patients to Altnagelvin Hospital as it is the closest?
• Cross border Paediatric Cardiology Services for children in the 6 counties accessing treatment at
Dublin Hospitals? What will happen post Brexit?
• Cross border Community Health Initiatives funded through the EU?
• Also for serious consideration is the fact that the long-awaited second Breast Surgeon at Letterkenny University Hospital who started on the 24th July has a cross border element to that appointment. We have concerns that the post was only a Locum one for 1 year which is not acceptable at all.
“For us in DACC these are all very important services but our very serious concerns are and we are sure you can appreciate regarding the future of the Radiotherapy Unit at Altnagelvin. The real impact will not be evident for 3 years,” Betty continued.
“We in Donegal Action for Cancer Care also asked the EU that there is a Hard Border that the European Union must help Donegal patients by ensuring that the necessary supports would be made available to the Irish Government to ensure that Letterkenny University Hospital Co. Donegal will be resourced and developed to meet the needs of the population as stated in the European Commission on Effective, Accessible & Resilient Health Systems and that Donegal does not continue to be excluded!Tags: