Consultation on cancer services move

SUFFOLK Primary Care Trust has held its first consultation on plans to move specialist head and neck cancer services from Ipswich to Norwich.

SUFFOLK Primary Care Trust (PCT) has held its first consultation on plans to move specialist head and neck cancer services from Ipswich to Norwich.

The meeting, held in Eye, was well attended by people living in and around the north Suffolk market town and the professionals involved in the proposed move.

The Anglia Cancer Network (ACN), which recommends moving the service to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital comply with national guidelines, was represented by director Audrey Bradford.

The Improving Outcomes Guidance (IOG) suggests that surgery should be carried out in centres which serve a population of approximately one million people and treat at least 100 new cases each year, which Ipswich Hospital currently does not.

ACN proposed three options for consultation. Option one is that current services are retained at Ipswich Hospital.

Option two is the establishment of a joint service between Ipswich and the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, with specialist surgery taking place in both hospitals, with diagnostic care and follow up provided at Ipswich.

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Finally, option three would see head and neck services provided at Norfolk and Norwich Hospital with all specialist surgery taking place on the site, with Ipswich Hospital continuing to provide initial diagnosis and follow-up care.

Following an assessment of the options, ACN recommended option three as the only option that is fully compliant with the IOG guidelines.

ACN representatives were challenged by one consultation attendee to justify the proposed move up the A140.

In response, Mrs Bradford said that cancer patients in Suffolk would benefit from having access to a pool of experts in an integrated team, performing complex procedures and that taking this approach would lead to better survival rates in the future.

She said: “Realistically, it's the only option that is feasible. It's not about money or the viability of Ipswich Hospital and we would prefer a split site working arrangement.”

The consultation process will finish on June 6. A decision will then be made by the ACN Board in July, following an external analysis of the responses received at the consultations.

The next consultations will take place at Stow Lodge Centre, Stowmarket, on April 22 at 2pm and at Kesgrave Conference Centre, on April 28 at 6.30pm.

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