Colchester hospital will bid to become specialist cancer centre
Chiefs at Colchester General Hospital have said they will bid to become a regional specialist centre for urological cancer.
NHS England plans to open one such centre in Essex in early 2017 to provide surgery for patients who have prostate, bladder and kidney cancer.
Currently there are two such centres in Essex, at Colchester and Southend hospitals, but under NHS guidelines around provision per population there will only be one in the future.
The move has prompted campaigns in both areas to keep the centres, though all hospital trusts in the county are being invited to express an interest in hosting the centre.
Once the new service has launched, GPs and other health workers will continue to refer patients with suspected urological cancer to their local hospital for investigation, diagnosis and treatment. Only about 150 of those patients each year will be referred to the new centre for specialised surgery, with the rest of their care taking place at their local hospital.
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Trusts will have until early February to submit their plans to an evaluation panel, and then those proposals which meet the criteria will go out to public consultation before a final decision is made next autumn.
Colchester General Hospital is home to the ICENI centre, a joint enterprise with Anglia Ruskin University, which trains and develops skills in keyhole surgery – and which could form a key part of its bid.
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Dr Rory Harvey, clinical director for the East of England Cancer Strategic Clinical Network and co-chairman for the national Cancer Programme of Care Board at NHS England, said: “This is an extremely important step forward for people living in Essex.
“The new single specialist centre will drive improvements in the diagnosis of these cancers, which will increase the number of patients able to be treated and improve the survival chances for patients after one and five years.”
Other specialised urological cancer surgery centres in the region include Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, The Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, Norwich and Lister Hospital, Stevenage, as well as in London.
A spokesman for Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the general hospital, said: “The trust will express an interest in hosting a specialist centre for urological cancer surgery and will submit plans for it.”