Cancer network shake-up planned

HEALTH bosses have recommended a fundamental change to the way cancer services are provided in Essex following a period of consultation.And they have also rubber-stamped the establishment of a specialist cancer centre at Colchester General Hospital.

By Roddy Ashworth

HEALTH bosses have recommended a fundamental change to the way cancer services are provided in Essex following a period of consultation.

And they have also rubber-stamped the establishment of a specialist cancer centre at Colchester General Hospital.

The board of Essex Strategic Health Authority has agreed to create a new cancer network to take in the whole of Essex.


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The key decision was one of four about cancer services made by board members meeting in Waterfront Hall, Chelmsford, following the outcome of a formal 13-week public consultation that finished on March 13.

There are currently three cancer networks covering the population of Essex SHA: the Mid Anglia Cancer Network (MACN) covering north-east and mid Essex, the South Essex Cancer Network (SECN), and the North London Cancer Network (NLCN), which covers the west of the county as well as north and west London.

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These will now effectively disappear in Essex as the new network is established.

A report for the board meeting stated: “A single network for north-east, mid, south-east and south-west Essex would enable the best features of both the existing networks to be combined and ensure a sustainable arrangement for the future.”

The board agreed to develop the existing specialist surgical centre for upper gastrointestinal cancer at Broomfield Hospital, Chelmsford, rather than develop a single, specialist surgical centre at Basildon Hospital.

Members also agreed to develop a single specialist service for urological cancer with two surgical centres - one at Colchester General Hospital.

The move follows confusion as to whether Ipswich or Colchester would house the unit, with both being named likely contenders throughout a three-year review process.

The board has also agreed to establish a specialist surgical centre for head and neck cancers at Broomfield Hospital, Chelmsford.

Speaking after the meeting, Dr Paul Watson, SHA Medical Director, said: “The main aim in making these decisions is to ensure that Essex cancer patients have access to high quality services that meet national requirements.”

As part of the authority's consultation process, more than 1,300 documents were sent out by post and electronic copies of the document were sent to 48 organisations.

Ten meetings were held, which included six open public meetings and three informal meetings with patients and staff, and over 130 written responses were received.

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