'Life-saving' rapid cancer diagnosis centres established in Northern Ireland

Two fast diagnosis centres for people with potential cancer are to be established in Northern Ireland. 

The hubs will be based at Whiteabbey Hospital in Newtownabbey and South Tyrone Hospital in Dungannon. 

GPs with concerns about patients who do not have the traditional “red flag” signs of cancer will be able to refer them to one of the centres. 

It is hoped the centres will be up and running before the end of the year. 

They form part of a new 10-year cancer strategy from the Health Minister Robin Swann which was launched on Tuesday. 

However, only one year of funding is currently available due to the failure of Stormont to agree a budget. 

Around £2.3million additional funding is needed for year one of the plan and in the region of £145m per year when all actions are implemented. 

A capital one-off investment of  £73m is also required.

Minister Swann said cancer services were challenged before the pandemic and there continues to be significant capacity and workforce challenges across a range of areas. 

He added: “Therefore there is a need to move forward urgently to implement the actions outlined in this Strategy to rebuild and transform our services in the short, medium and longer term.”

It is one of his biggest projects and now that his time as health minister is almost up, Robin Swann will be hoping his successor will deliver on it.