MINISTER for Health Mary Harney indicated on her visit to the Louth County Hospital on Monday to officially open the North East Regional Colposcopy Service that other services could also be coming to the hospital in the New Year.
Minister Harney said that the Colposcopy Unit would be an enormous benefit to the hospital and said that it was likely to be accompanied by further additional services, including a colorectal screening unit, in the New Year.
Speaking after the official opening about the new unit, Minister Harney said: "It will be an enormous benefit for the hospital in the first instance because there will be about 1,400 patients being referred here that wouldn't have come here in the past.
"Those patients in the past would have gone to either Drogheda or Monaghan and a very small number would have come to this facility. So clearly from the point of view of the future of this hospital it's important that we develop the services in this hospital and that is the plan, including palliative care services, rehabilitation for stroke patients, orthopaedics for older people to use but specifically in relation to cancer it's very important that we have national screening programmes.
"It's fantastic for the women of the region that we have a quality assured state of the art facility with all the staff appropriately trained, operating to best international practice. Next year we're rolling out a colorectal screening programme and the intention is that this hospital as well will provide the screening for the region and this will be the first programme for women and men."
Minister Harney also said that while the Budget had restricted the HSE's spending power, the government would not be cutting back on cancer services.
"Cancer services won't be impacted because the Budget included e10 million extra for cancer in 2011 and that is to provide for services like this but clearly there will be challenges to live within the Budget set."