Councillor assures islanders over radiotherapy plans
Councillor Adrian Davis has assured islanders that the radiotherapy centre in Cornwall will not close.
It has been reported that patients with "less common" cancers who require radiotherapy may have to go to Derriford Hospital rather than Treliske in Truro as part of plans by NHS England to centralise services.
Dr Davis, who is the Lead Member for Adults, said he has done a lot of reading on the issue and that the NHS proposals are a positive step.
He told last week’s Full Council meeting: “The scaremongering is that radiotherapy will no longer be available in Cornwall and therefore you would have to go to Derriford or Exeter or even further afield.
“It’s a bit strange because if you keep in touch with the media you will hear every now and again that people choose to go abroad. In fact the NHS is sending people abroad at this moment, [to Florida and Switzerland] on the NHS where treatment is not available in this country."
He explained that a new machine is "coming on stream" called a Proton Beam, which is thought to make a much safer beam for use in radiotherapy. The government is building a machine in London and one in Manchester.
He went on: “The government want to update the machines and have a centralised organisation. If you actually read the document, no centres are going to be closed so there’s no question of closing the Sunrise unit at Treliske… We are extremely lucky to have such an advanced and useful and clinically hugely beneficial [unit] in our area."
NHS England is looking at maximising the effectiveness of its £130 million equipment modernisation investment with the creation of 11 regional Radiotherapy Networks across the UK.
“The idea is to try to concentrate in catchment areas of 500,000 or more, which excludes Truro, which I think is where the scaremongering comes from," said Cllr Davis. "They have recognised that there will be a very small number who don’t come under their umbrella figures and arrangements will made to co-ordinate the service given to those patients.”
He pointed to bullet 76 in the report which states that “this exercise is not about reducing the number of sites currently delivering radiotherapy. The number of radiotherapy delivery sites will be maintained. Instead, it is about ensuring that patients are able to access the right level of care and the most appropriate setting…"
Cllr Davis added: “So really it’s a matter of co-ordinating the teams that work. And you have to remember that some cancers are so rare that clinicians need to concentrate the centres to improve the response to the research and knowledge to give the best treatment to that patient at the time.
"So this report basically is a matter of co-ordinating the system of radiotherapy across the country and as I read it, there is no question that the Sunrise Centre will be closed. It may mean and it has always meant that some patients may need to go further afield."
He also asked Members to support any efforts being made to "improve accommodation and a better joined up service for those among our community who are unfortunate enough to need these treatments”.
Council Chairman Ted Moulson said he endorsed Cllr Davis’s comments, adding: “This is an improvement in the service, not a regressive step.”
Cllr Avril Mumford informed Members that the issue has been added to the scrutiny work plan and she will keep everyone updated.
A public consultation on the proposals ends on January 24th and Healthwatch Isles of Scilly have urged islanders to share their views. Find
out how to do so here.