Multi-million pound bid for Hertfordshire radiotherapy unit submitted
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Health bosses in Hertfordshire have submitted a new multi-million pound bid for a radiotherapy unit in the county.
Currently cancer patients from across Hertfordshire - and neighbouring Bedfordshire - are most likely to travel to the Mount Vernon Cancer Centre for radiotherapy treatment, used to treat half of all cancer patients.
The centre in Northwood, just south of Rickmansworth and the Herts border, has a catchment population of almost two million people - with some facing a 70-mile round trip for each visit.
But it has now emerged that the East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust has put in a bid for a new radiotherapy unit more locally.
The NHS trust - which, as well as Mount Vernon, runs Lister Hospital in Stevenage, the New QEII in Welwyn Garden City and Hertford County Hospital - put in the bid during January, and said it reflects a long-held belief that there should be a satellite facility to improve access and care.
In a statement confirming the bid, a spokesperson for the NHS trust said: "It has been a long-held strategic intent of East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust to build a satellite radiotherapy unit to improve local patient access to this critical treatment for patients with cancer, and provide the best patient care.
"We submitted a bid for funding for a satellite radiotherapy unit to the STP in 2018, and have submitted a new bid this year."
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Stevenage MP Stephen McPartland, in partnership with Archant title the Comet, launched a campaign for a radiotherapy unit at Lister in August 2010 - with North East Herts MP Sir Oliver Heald later following suit.
Prior to the December General Election, Mr McPartland raised the issue again in the House of Commons. He said: "There are more than 1.5 million people in Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire, and they have no access to a radiotherapy facility in either county. Will the [health] minister agree to bring cancer care closer to people's homes and join the campaign to establish a satellite radiotherapy unit in Stevenage?" News of the bid for a new radiotherapy unit has emerged just days after it was announced that University College London Hospitals had been chosen by NHS England as the preferred provider - "subject to due diligence" - to run Mount Vernon, from April 2021.