“As far as I am aware, is no plan to move radiotherapy from RCHT. There is simply no plan”.
Cornwall’s Sunrise Centre got not one but two Cornish MPs asking the Prime Minister questions on it’s behalf yesterday.
Both Scott Mann and Derek Thomas spoke at the weekly Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons, raising to a wider profile the concerns about equipment being moved away from Truro, forcing patients into journeys of hundreds of miles when they are at their weakest and most vulnerable.
One came out of the national political showpiece better than the other.
Mann, MP, for North Cornwall, said the plans that vital services in Truro could be moved to Devon were unacceptable to him and to the vast majority of the people of Cornwall . He asked Prime Minister if she thought travel times should be taken into account when assessing where treatment centres are located.
A nervous Derek Thomas fluffed the moment and called it the Sunset centre by accident.
Watch Scott Mann at PMQs: “Unacceptable to me and the vast majority of the people of Cornwall”
The PM characteristically fobbed them both off with meaningless platitudes “Of course the length of time that you travel is an issue here” and “Decisions should be taken at a local level” The Prime Minister joined Laurence Reed and the mass ranks of others and encouraged the people of Cornwall to make their feelings known to the NHS consultation.
Mrs May’s best attempt at reassuring Cornwall was when she added that she “recognised the importance of people having access to the treatments they require, that’s why they are putting £130m into cancer treatment into these networks” but “that some people have issues travelling to where these centres will be”
And again “This is primarily a decision to be taken at local level”.
There’s been an update so on Steve Double’s on-air promise to Laurence Reed that he’ll speak to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt personally at some point this week.
The St Austell & Newquay MP apparently met him on Tuesday.
He said “This afternoon I was able to meet with Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary. I made him aware of the concerns of local residents and the need to retain these services within Cornwall. I am grateful that he took the time to listen to the points I made.”
“We need to wait and see what the outcome of the consultation brings but he has asked me to keep him informed.”
Watch Derek Thomas blunder: “Can she reassure his constituents that there is no need for existing, good radiotherapy equipment to be moved from the Sunset Centre?”
Derek Thomas also issued a statement yesterday again trusting the words of the consultation blurb that say services won’t be reduced.
“As far as I am aware, is no plan to move radiotherapy from RCHT. There is simply no plan” he said.
The West Cornwall MP continues “This is also not the intended outcome of further investment in radiotherapy. There is a consultation regarding a new investment of £130 million in radiotherapy treatment for less common and rare cancers. This consultation has been extended until 24th January”
I have made it clear to NHS England and NHS managers in Cornwall that I would not support existing services being moved from RCHT.
On Friday I have met with Cornwall’s NHS managers to discuss the likely implication for patients who need radiotherapy treatment. I have requested information regarding how many people currently receive radiotherapy for rare cancers in Cornwall each year on average and where this treatment currently is provided.
The distance people are required to travel for treatment must always be a consideration when designing new services.
Please be assured I will continue to follow this closely and do all I can to ensure patient care is at the forefront of all decision making regarding how this £130 million in radiotherapy treatment is used”
NHS England’s response is as follows:
‘It is not NHS England’s intention to reduce the number of radiotherapy providers, nor is it considered to be a likely outcome of these proposals. Their aim is to encourage radiotherapy providers to work together in Networks to concentrate expertise and improve pathways for patients requiring radical radiotherapy for the less common and rarer cancers. This may mean that in some areas that some activity is concentrated and redistributed within the Network geography to other providers in order to secure access for patients to the very best specialist treatment and care.’ – which is the same words as the consultation website blurb.
Scott Mann describes potential longer travel times to radiotherapy services as ‘unacceptable’
North Cornwall MP Scott Mann used PMQs to describe the potential centralisation of radiotherapy services in Devon and Cornwall as “unacceptable”.
He paid tribute to the Sunrise Appeal who raise money for cancer care and also urged Cornish residents to respond to the NHS England consultation.
“Cancer can strike anyone, no matter where they live in the UK. The Sunrise Appeal in Cornwall has raised £3 million since the year 2000 to fund equipment and buildings for cancer care, but proposals by the NHS could see radiotherapy services moved from Cornwall to Devon.
“This would mean many constituents having to travel hundreds of miles to access treatment many times a week. These proposals are unacceptable to my constituents and the vast majority of people in Cornwall.
“Does the Prime Minister agree that travel times should be taken into account when making these decisions, and will she join me in encouraging the people of Cornwall to respond to the NHS consultation?”
The Prime Minister said:
“My honourable Friend raises an important point. We want to ensure that patients get the best cancer services and that they get access to treatment in a timely fashion. Of course, the length of time it takes patients to travel to that treatment is an important issue”
The NHS England consultation can be found here.
Photo from Sunrise Appeal Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/sunriseappeal/
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