Yesterday’s announcement by the Northern Executive Health Minister Michael McGimpsey that the North West wasn’t after all going to get a specialised radiography unit was met with anger.
News of the decision broke very conveniently as the Stormont circus broke up for the forth coming elections, now to be held on May 5th.
A cynical political manoeuvre or a cold hard hitting fact that those up on the hill simply couldn’t find any spare cash to support the running costs of the proposed cancer unit. Either way reaction on the streets of North West was rightly angry and swift.
In Derry’s Waterside, near to Altnagelvin Hospital, Community activists who’ve fought for years locally were joined in protest by family and friends over the shelving of the unit’s announcement. And of course with this being election time, politicians were there for the photo-shoot too!
Despite McGimpsey having the last call on whether or not the new cancer centre got the go ahead, all party political representatives are just as equally to blame for this health crisis. From the very beginning it has been used as a political football while cancer patients and their families were forced to endure having to travel several hundred miles in round trips to Belfast for radiography treatment.
This Saturday, March 26th in Guildhall Square, there will now be a protest against this sickening decision following the planned Trade Union rally on Cut Backs. Again the great and the good will be there, in all their electoral splendour promising heaven and earth to those in attendance. The fact of the matter is that each of their offices and that of the health board should be occupied until the decision is reversed, and sorted once and for all. Direct action against the cuts now is the only way things can change not electing the next alternative candidate to office.
What’s for sure is that within the next 4 to 5 years the radiography centre in Belfast will become overwhelmed as the numbers of cancer patients double. Where will this leave those of us in the North West and that of our relatives who have to face the prospect of a future after being diagnosed with cancer?
The rally against the cuts takes place on Saturday 26th March, Guildhall Square at 1.30pm