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New state of the art Saolta Radiation Oncology Centre officially opens in University Hospital Galway

  • Largest infrastructure development in the history of UHG
  • Newly built 8,000sqm radiotherapy centre costing €70.7 million for the project.
  • Will lead to an increase in capacity for radiotherapy treatments
  • New technology increases significantly the ability to accurately target and treat tumours

University Hospital Galway and the Saolta Group are delighted to announce the official opening of the state-of-the-art Saolta Radiation Oncology Centre. The newly built Radiology Oncology Centre which opened in UHG on a phased basis equipped to the highest specification, providing advanced radiotherapy treatment for cancer patients all across the West and North West.

The centre was officially opened by Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly TD on Friday, October 20th.

Welcoming the new development, Minister Donnelly said: “I am delighted to open this new radiation oncology centre, which is the result of a commitment to expand radiotherapy provision in Galway under our National Cancer Strategy.

“This centre will help to improve provision of radiotherapy for cancer patients, and to allow the introduction of new treatments and technologies. This multi-million Euro project shows this Government’s commitment to a programme of infrastructure improvement at the Galway hospital campuses.”

The unit is the largest infrastructure development in the history of UHG. The newly built 8,000sqm radiotherapy unit will lead to   an increase in capacity for radiotherapy treatments. The new technology also significantly increases the ability to accurately target and treat tumours.

Building of the 8,000sqm facility commenced in 2020 on the site of the former acute mental health unit at the hospital with an overall project budget of €70.7m. The new three-storey building includes six radiotherapy treatment vaults using the most advanced linear accelerator technology. These provide improved imaging and allowing greater precision and accuracy in targeting disease.

These machines can deliver stereotactic radiotherapy treatment which is a highly focused technique delivering ultra-precise treatment to tumours. This advancement will ensure that patients will no longer have to travel to Dublin for this treatment. 

Three of the linear accelerators are currently operational with one more coming on stream on a phased basis. The remaining two vaults will allow for future expansion.

A new brachytherapy suite has been built containing a state of the art surgical theatre and treatment rooms, along with a new superficial suite for skin treatments. The centre also includes a new radiation oncology outpatient suite with 12 clinic rooms and facilities for patient review and support.

The new centre will welcome the installation of the country’s first MRI-RT simulator next year. This is a MRI scanner specifically for the needs of Radiation Oncology patients, it allows better soft tissue definition and again improves the precision in targeting the disease.

Chris Kane, Hospital Manager said: “This facility really is a fantastic development to enhance and improve the radiotherapy services we provide to patients in our region. This new facility has been planned for a number of years and has been supported as a strategic priority by the National Cancer Control Programme, Saolta and GUH and our Estates colleagues. It will facilitate us providing services in a modern and larger facility with the latest equipment and technology. It will enable us on a phased basis to increase our range of treatments, our staffing and provide over time additional capacity to treat additional patients.  I want to acknowledge and thank everyone who worked on this project from its inception to now delivery of the new facility.”

The hospital has secured increased staffing allocation for the department, with the number of radiation therapists due to rise from 25 to 46. While recruitment to these posts and others remains an ongoing challenge, we continuing to prioritise filling all vacant posts.

Dr Cormac Small, Consultant Radiation Oncologist at the hospital said: “I am delighted that the new Radiation Oncology centre has now opened. It is a great resource for the people of the West and North West of Ireland. The entire building has been designed not just for today’s needs but also for future needs.
“The new centre will also allow for the expansion for our service across a wide range of areas. The dedicated ambulatory care area will allow for the expansion of our nursing service to patients and play a vital role in allowing patients to stay out of hospital and remain at home for their treatment. There is now space for allied health professions again allowing for expansion of physiotherapy, occupational therapy, social work, and speech and language therapy to the patients. 

There are two empty treatment bunkers that allow for expansion as needed. We have designed these bunkers to accept the next generation of MRI base Linear Accelerators which weren’t even available when we planned the building.  

“We have only been able to open due to hard work and dedication of all the staff in the Radiation Oncology Department over the last number of years. I would also like to thank the NCCP, the design team and hospital management for their support,” he added.

Tony Canavan, CEO of the Saolta University Hospital Group added: “Investment in Galway as a supra-regional cancer centre is essential to meet the demands of our population and the opening of this new radiotherapy centre is a very positive step in the right direction.”  

Welcoming the new centre, Prof Michael Kerin, Director of the Cancer Managed Clinical Academic Network (MCAN) for Saolta added: “This represents a step change in our ability to deliver fit for purpose cancer care in a modern environment. The radiotherapy programme is a key component of cancer therapy and this facility will ensure that the patients from the west of Ireland can receive international class outcomes from this part of their cancer journey- we are very grateful for this important investment in the regional cancer programme.”

Professor Risteárd Ó Laoide said: “The new Radiation Oncology Centre in GUH/Saolta represents an important milestone in the commitment of NCCP to deliver optimal cancer care to patients and their families in the west of Ireland.  This centre is staffed by highly skilled and committed health care professionals which combined with access to the latest advancements in radiation oncology treatment will ensure the best outcome for our patients.” 


Photo Caption:
At the official opening of the Radiation Oncology Centre from left: Tony Canavan, CEO, Saolta University Health Care Group; Marie Burns, Director of Nursing, GUH; Dr Cormac Small, Consultant Radiation Oncologist, UHG; Chris Kane, General Manager, GUH; Stephen Donnelly, Minister for Health TD; Ann Cosgrove, Chief Operating Officer, Saolta University Health Care Group; Dr Joe Martin, Consultant Radiation Oncologist, UHG; and Dr Pat Nash, Chief Clinical Director, Saolta University Health Care Group.

The article above is specific to the following Saolta hospitals:: 
University Hospital Galway (UHG)