The Royal Shrewsbury Hospital is expected to lose more services as part of a review of cancer surgery in the area.
Dr Charles West, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Shrewsbury and Atcham said: “It is right and proper to review the best way to provide cancer services for our patients, but I am becoming increasingly worried about the number of services that are being withdrawn from Shrewsbury. There is a trend towards concentrating more and more specialist services in our major cities. We have already lost cancer surgery for stomach and gullet and now three more areas may be withdrawn. Whilst I would always recommend to a patient that it may be better to travel a short way to receive the best care, the tendency for more and more services to be concentrated in our major cities poses a real risk to the future of hospitals in the more rural parts of the country such as Shropshire.
“I am seriously concerned that this review of cancer surgery has not looked at the quality of care, and completely ignores the question of geography. If that is the case then Shrewsbury Hospital and Shrewsbury people may suffer totally unnecessary cuts. We currently have experienced surgeons in Shrewsbury, and many patients receive high quality treatment here. If we lose these services now we shall lose more and more in the future. As the prospective MP for Shrewsbury I will make a promise that one of my first concerns will be to address this issue facing constituents”.
The National Cancer Plan published in 2000 designated certain hospitals as cancer centres and smaller units as cancer units approved for the treatment of particular types of cancer. So for example a hospital might be a designated cancer centre for breast cancer and bladder cancer, but not for stomach cancer.
In 2005 NICE (The National Institute of Clinical Excellence) published “Improving Outcomes Guidance.”
In 2006 the Greater Midlands Cancer Network was set up. It included The Hospitals at Wolverhampton, Dudley, North Staffs, Shrewsbury and Telford.
The Greater Midlands Cancer Network commissioned its own review of services led by Professor MJ Lind. The Lind review was completed in November 2009 and has been presented to Hospital Trust Boards and is now being considered by the Greater Midlands Cancer Network. It looked at the numbers of patients undergoing surgery for gynaecological cancers, urological cancers and cancers of the head and neck. It is recommending that in some of these types of cancer too few are being treated in Shrewsbury and that some departments do not fit with their standard model service. They suggest that cancer surgery in these areas should cease at Shrewsbury and should be provided in Wolverhampton alone or Wolverhampton and Stoke on Trent (North Staffs).
Surgery for cancer in upper Gastro-intestinal tract that used to be performed in Telford, has already been withdrawn.