Nova Scotia

Yarmouth won't get radiation unit but Delorey promises more cancer services

Despite a year-long lobbying campaign by residents in southwest Nova Scotia, the hospital in Yarmouth won't be getting a radiation treatment unit.

Health minister says Yarmouth Regional Hospital to get 'additional clinical type of services and supports'

Residents in southwest Nova Scotia have pushed the provincial government to bring a radiation treatment unit to Yarmouth Regional Hospital. (Robert Short/CBC)

Nova Scotians living at the southwest end of the province who need radiation treatment won't be getting it closer to home, despite a yearlong lobbying effort to get a treatment unit at the Yarmouth Regional Hospital.

According to Health Minister Randy Delorey an exhaustive study of the possibility concluded it just wasn't feasible.

"I won't go into the full details there, but it was very extensive and the recommendation they came back was not to produce an accelerator there for a number of reasons," Delorey told reporters Thursday, following a cabinet meeting. 

Delorey said local people were "disappointed" but also showed "a respect and appreciation, and acceptance of the final recommendations." 

It means those who need radiation treatment will still need to travel to Halifax. But Delorey said other changes could mean fewer trips are necessary.

"One of the recommendations is about new technology and new treatments in the Cancer Care Centre in Halifax," he said. "With new technology and training they're actually able to reduce the number of radiation treatments required."

He pointed to some instances of breast cancer that can be treated in three to five treatments, rather than the 15 or 20 currently needed.

"By supporting that work, you're already having a very significant impact on the amount of travel time for patients."

He said Yarmouth Regional Hospital will get "additional clinical type of services and supports."

According to Delorey, the Nova Scotia Health Authority is also considering improved telemedicine facilities in Yarmouth to allow patients followup care in their community from specialists in Halifax.