Super hospital bid puts Hackney ‘cancer patients at risk’

Royal Hospital London, Whitechapel,

Royal Hospital London, Whitechapel, - Credit: Archant

Doctors fear patients in Hackney could be deprived of specialist care if cancer services are moved to a “super hospital”.

University College Hospital

University College Hospital - Credit: Archant

NHS England are proposing to move renal, bladder, prostrate, head, neck and brain cancer services from St Bartholomew’s Hospital, West Smithfield, and Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel to University College Hospital London (UCLH), Bloomsbury – meaning average bus journey times would double to 40 minutes from Hackney Central.

There are also concerns it would adversely affect the co-ordination of cancer care before and after treatment at Homerton University Hospital, Homerton as UCLH is not part of the Barts Health NHS Trust hospitals such as St Bartholomew’s and the Royal Free - which treat Hackney patients.

Dr Coral Jones, a Hackney GP and secretary of City and Hackney division of the British Medical Association (BMA), said: “Although our cancer care is co-ordinated from the Homerton hospital, a lot of treatment goes on at St Bart’s.

“If people have to have radiotherapy every day, they have to go every day for several weeks. We don’t want them to go all the way to UCLH when they are unwell in the first place.

“We are also concerned that case notes between hospitals would get lost.”

Chairman of Tower Hamlets BMA Jackie Turner added: “Trauma victims would also be affected.

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“For example, most stabbing victims are stabbed in the abdomen and a stomach cancer specialist would be called on to operate on them. Road accident victims who suffered brain trauma would have brain cancer specialists operate on them.

“Potentially everyone in Hackney could be impacted by the loss of services.”

A spokesman from Barts Health NHS Trust said: “Under NHS England’s proposals, no staff will cease to be employed by Barts Health NHS Trust.

“The proposals would mean only a minimal number of cancer operations for some highly specialised and rare cancers would move from the trust.

“In the last year this would have seen 57 operations for patients from Hackney, out of the 28,000 episodes of cancer care carried out annually at the trust, moving to UCLH or The Royal Free Hospital.

“Barts Health is strongly committed to improving the survival and outcomes of cancer patients in London, which are currently worse than in the rest of the country. Two-thirds of early deaths in London result from cancer and heart disease.”

“We will ensure that the world-leading trauma team at The Royal London Hospital will continue to provide high-quality care for major trauma patients and we are working with our clinicians and the public to fully consider and mitigate the impact of the proposed changes.”