West is being left behind – Hugh Baxter

The recently published National Cancer Registry highlights the ongoing discrimination against the people of County Roscommon, according to Labour candidate Hughie Baxter.             Mr. Baxter said that the unfairness of our ‘two-tier’ health system is evident in the fact that geographical location and income levels are still key factors in determining access to screening and treatment. Mr. Baxter reiterated his calls for early rollout of Breast Check and a co-ordinated approach to prostate screening.             ‘The new study by the Cancer Registry again highlights the fact the people in the West, including Leitrim and Roscommon, have lower survival rates for breast, prostate and bowel cancer. We’ve known for a long time about the unfairness in our so-called ‘two-tier’ health system, which simply means that if you have money you can access services, if you don’t you wait. Now on top of that we have clear evidence of regional inequality.             ‘Messrs. Ahern and McDowell and their colleague Ms. Harney may think that such inequality is necessary or even good for us. I disagree. If this were in the Deep South or in Northern Ireland, we’d call it what it is: Discrimination. ‘Labour in Government is committed to tackling these basic injustices in our health system. We have a first class economy; it’s time we had a health system to match.             ‘The ongoing delay in the provision of Breast Check screening in the West of Ireland is a scandal and needlessly exposes women in this region to increased risk. Early detection is key to survival. In 2005 the Labour Party collected over 3,000 signatures in Leitrim and Roscommon calling for extension of Breast Check. If elected to Dáil Éireann, I will make it a personal priority to ensure that Breast Check services are provided within one year of Labour taking office.             ‘Similarly, with prostate cancer, access to screening appears to be very patchy. We need a co-ordinated nationwide approach to prostate screening to ensure that men in every part of the country have the best chance of survival,’ Mr. Baxter concluded.