Call for rethink on cancer services move

A SENIOR politician has called for a rethink of controversial plans to scrap head and neck cancer surgery at Ipswich Hospital.

A SENIOR politician has called for a rethink of controversial plans to scrap head and neck cancer surgery at Ipswich Hospital.

Andrew Lansley, the shadow health minister, visited the hospital yesterday to meet with concerned staff and patients, worried about the consequences of the proposed move.

Mr Lansley, Conservative MP for South Cambridgeshire, spoke to oral and maxillofacial consultant Huw Davies, who has already warned that moving the service to Norwich, as recommended by the Anglia Cancer Network (ACN), would be bad for patients and the hospital.

Mr Lansley said: “I met patients and they spoke from personal experience about the first class care provided here.

“This department has built up expertise and capabilities over a decade and a half and you can't just pick it up and move it.

“The journey to Norwich is a long one and would be distressing for patients.

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“The idea that you can concentrate all the services in one place is mistaken and certainly not necessary if outcomes are good already, as they are in this case.”

Mr Lansley stressed the need to keep services provided locally when possible so district hospitals did not lose all their expertise to giant specialist centres.

And he added that he understood why clinicians such as Mr Davies feared if the cancer surgery went, other services would follow.

“I've noticed more than once that there seems to be a law of unintended consequences; when one service moves something else is affected,” he said.

“If the move to the Norfolk & Norwich goes ahead it could mean there are no longer the consultants here to support facial trauma in Accident & Emergency.”

The ACN has recommended moving all head and neck cancer surgery to the Norfolk & Norwich Hospital to comply with national guidelines.

It said better treatment could be provided in specialist centres and that Ipswich Hospital does not treat enough cases of head and neck cancer a year or serve a large enough population to qualify as one of the centres.

Initial diagnosis and follow-up care would still be provided at Ipswich Hospital.

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