New equipment to bolster cancer radiation treatment capacity in Limerick

UL Hospitals Group chief executive Colette Cowan

A NEW state of the art machine, to be installed by Mater Private Network, will increase capacity to provide radiation cancer services at University Hospital Limerick by 50 per cent when it becomes operational next month.

That’s according to information supplied to North Tipperary councillor Peggy Ryan (FG) who raised the issue of breakdowns in the system at the recent meeting of the Regional Health Forum West.

Cllr Ryan had asked about existing radium machine, how often it broke down in the past year, and what the knock-on effects for patients had been.

In reply, CEO of the UL Hospitals Group Colette Cowan said she had “been in contact with the Mater Private Network (MPN) in relation to this matter and Mr Hugh Healy, Director of Cancer at the Mater Private Network has advised that they will be investing €5.5m in the upgrading of a CT machine and a linear accelerator”.

In reply to Prof Cowan’s query, Mr Healy said that they will be “replacing the older of two linear accelerators in the facility so that we can increase our capacity, and the level of service offered to the residents in the region of Limerick and the Mid West”.

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“In 2022, the downtime in our centre was estimated to be approximately five per cent. This is comparable to large international cancer centres average downtime between two per cent and nine per cent. Any delays are inconvenient for our patients but we ensure that it does not impact their care plan.

“We have an aggressive program of works underway to deliver a new machine by the first week of July. The new machine, a Varian Halcyon, is the newest machine platform available from the manufacturer and will be a first in Ireland. This will increase our capacity by 50 per cent compared to the older machine,” he concluded.