Concerns over 'ageing estate' prompt review of Herts and Beds cancer centre

PUBLISHED: 08:30 21 June 2019

Mount Vernon Cancer Centre is under review. Picture: Pixabay.

Mount Vernon Cancer Centre is under review. Picture: Pixabay.

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NHS England has stepped in to review the East and North Herts NHS Trust's cancer centre following "concerns regarding the long-term sustainability of the services".

Patients in Herts and Beds must currently make the 70-mile round trip to the Mount Vernon Cancer Centre in Middlesex for routine radiotherapy, but a review of the "increasingly ageing estate" may lead to long-held plans for a radiotherapy unit at Stevenage's Lister Hospital being realised.

Mount Vernon has a catchment population of almost two million people, with more than 5,000 new patients registered each year.

New figures show our NHS Trust in the bottom 10 in the UK for cancer treatment waiting times, and in January our NHS Trust admitted there is a risk it could not secure the long-term future of the Middlesex facility.

Now NHS England has stepped in. Ruth Ashmore, assistant director of NHS England Specialised Commissioning, said: "Concerns have been raised regarding the long-term sustainability of the services, and the environment from which they are delivered.

"A review of the services is the best way to understand the issues and plan a way forward.

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"The service is delivered from an increasingly ageing estate."

She said the review will examine the long-term requirements of the population, and there will be a seperate exercise to look at radiotherapy demand and capacity.

Ruth said: "We anticipate the review will lead to the development of options which will be designed to ensure the sustainability of cancer services for the population served by Mount Vernon."

An East and North Herts NHS Trust spokesman said: "​The provision of local satellite radiotherapy is being considered as part of the clinical review.

"We are working with our commissioners to highlight the need to improve access to radiotherapy for patients in north Hertfordshire and Stevenage."

It is nine years since Stevenage MP Stephen McPartland launched a campaign for a cancer centre at Lister, to provide radiotherapy.

In June last year the East and North Herts NHS Trust, which runs Lister, completed a business case for the centre, which could provide 80 per cent of radiotherapy for cancer patients living in east and north Herts, but the project has yet to go ahead.

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