Mount Vernon: £260 million bid for cancer services closer to home

Outside of Mount Vernon Cancer Centre and Lister Hospital in Stevenage

Mount Vernon Cancer Centre (left) is set to permanently close, with a satellite radiotherapy unit built at either Lister Hospital in Stevenage (right) or in Luton - Credit: Google Street View / East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust

A satellite radiotherapy unit could finally be built at Lister Hospital in Stevenage, as part of a £260 million bid submitted to the government for new cancer services in our area.

Mount Vernon Cancer Centre in Northwood, Middlesex, is our area's main radiotherapy centre. An urgent review of the centre - commissioned by NHS England in 2019 due to increasing concern regarding the sustainability of a safe service - found "much of the existing estate is dilapidated and not fit for purpose", and staff shortages are putting patients at risk.

The site serves a catchment area of almost two million people, with over 5,000 new patients registered each year.

The review concluded that services could not stay as they are. A bid for £260m to build a new cancer centre in Watford - to replace the existing Mount Vernon Cancer Centre - and a satellite radiotherapy unit in either Stevenage or Luton has now been submitted to the Department of Health and Social Care.

The proposal has been developed with patients, local people, cancer centre staff, other health professionals and voluntary groups.

With no radiotherapy provision in Herts or Beds, North East Herts MP Sir Oliver Heald and Stevenage MP Stephen McPartland have long been pushing for a satellite radiotherapy unit closer to home.

Sir Oliver said: "By far, the majority of patients come from North Hertfordshire, where Stevenage is the obvious choice, so it would be perverse if the satellite unit was to go to Luton."

Stephen added: "I agree. We will continue campaigning, as a new satellite radiotherapy unit would be another great addition to all the facilities we have, as Lister now has some of the most advanced and modern facilities in the country."

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The bid has been submitted as part of the government’s New Hospital Programme. Eight hospitals' schemes will be funded via this programme, with selection due in Spring.

Professor Peter Hoskins, a consultant in clinical oncology at Mount Vernon since 1992, said “The new cancer centre will result in a major improvement for cancer patients. It will be the most important build of this nature in the UK, and bring security for cancer services for patients within the area for the next 50 years."

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