Appeal to reverse cancer centre decision

By Richard SmithA LAST-MINUTE appeal has been made to the Government to reverse a controversial decision on the location of a new specialist cancer centre.

By Richard Smith

A LAST-MINUTE appeal has been made to the Government to reverse a controversial decision on the location of a new specialist cancer centre.

Suffolk Coastal MP John Gummer has urged Dr John Reid, the Health Secretary, to intervene "before it is too late" over the siting of the centre for urological cancer.

Both Ipswich Hospital and Colchester General Hospital had bid to house the centre and a decision was taken by the Mid Anglian Cancer Network executive board at a meeting 10 days ago to put the centre in Colchester.


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It is hoped the new unit will be operational by 2006 and it will treat people requiring complex surgery for urological cancer, which can attack the prostate gland, bladder or kidneys.

But in a letter to Dr Reid, Mr Gummer wrote: "The Mid Anglian Cancer Network properly put together a specialist independent investigatory team with the best range of expertise to advise on where this unit should be placed. The team recommended, firmly and without equivocation, that Ipswich Hospital should take the lead."

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Mr Gummer accused the network of bowing to pressure from the Colchester bid and added: "Although I hope that I will never need the services of this unit, I now know that I would not be in the hands of those adjudged the best, but of those who have made the most noise."

He added last night: "There were 14 months chattering about this and then a very quick operation at the end.

"Ipswich was never able to present its case, but Colchester presented its case in person. I have talked to the clinicians and other people at Ipswich Hospital and they are angry."

The team of independent experts had recommended in September last year that the centre should be based at Ipswich Hospital.

But Dr David Blainey, the network's lead clinician, has said a subsequent written submission by Essex Rivers Healthcare Trust, which runs Colchester General Hospital, had thrown some doubt on the recommendation.

Mid Anglian Cancer Network said both hospitals had produced excellent proposals, but the service put forward by Essex Rivers Healthcare Trust would provide greater benefits for patients.

Colchester MP Bob Russell and Harwich MP Ivan Henderson had lobbied for the centre to be based in Colchester and welcomed the network's decision.

richard.smith@eadt.co.uk

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