Top consultants warn of cancer care move

CANCER patients in Suffolk and north Essex will be denied the best treatment because health bosses are dismantling surgery services, two more top consultants have warned.

Rebecca Lefort

CANCER patients in Suffolk and north Essex will be denied the best treatment because health bosses are dismantling surgery services, two more top consultants have warned.

Experts at Colchester General Hospital have publicly voiced their concerns over the controversial decision to move specialist pancreatic cancer surgery from Ipswich Hospital - where north Essex patients are currently treated - to Addenbrooke's in Cambridge.

The decision to fight on behalf of their patients comes after Ipswich Hospital's consultants David Rae and Martin Sinclair warned last week that scrapping yet another cancer surgery service from Ipswich Hospital would de-skill its workforce.


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Now Colchester's Dr Bruce Sizer, consultant oncologist, and Mr Don Menzies, consultant in upper gastrointestinal and general surgery, have said in a joint statement: “As senior specialists in Colchester, treating patients with pancreatic cancer across north Essex for the last 10 years or more, we strongly agree with our Ipswich surgical colleagues, David Rae and Martin Sinclair, that 'scrapping pancreatic surgery at Ipswich Hospital could be disastrous for patients'.”

The East of England Specialised Commissioning Group (SCG) wants to create a centre of excellence for treating pancreatic cancer surgery in order to improve the rare cancer's low survival rate.

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Currently Ipswich Hospital treats patients from Suffolk and north Essex, while the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital and Addenbrooke's also provide the treatment.

The SCG experts said only one centre should be set up for the east and that Addenbrooke's was the closest to complying with national guidelines for care.

However Ipswich's doctors pointed out that they provided an excellent-rated service and were not far behind the massive Cambridge hospital in compliance.

Dr Rory Harvey, consultant medical physician and chair of the SCG's pancreatic cancer project steering group, said: "We are currently in a period of consultation about the proposed changes to services for pancreatic cancer. This is a part of the decision-making process that looks at the wider implications of the proposals.

“So far, the proposals are based upon a recommendation from an independent expert clinical review which was mainly concerned with how we are going to improve survival chances for patients with pancreatic cancer.

“The consultation process asks for views on the possible impact of developing a specialised centre and how patients and others may be affected. We are encouraging everyone to express their views and we have met with several clinical teams in the region including those at Colchester and Ipswich Hospitals.

“All views will be taken into account in reaching a final decision."

The consultation into the decision is ongoing. For more information visit www.escg.nhs.uk or call 01371 877267.

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