Cancer treatment will be on one site

Oxford Mail: Gordon Vacher Gordon Vacher

HOSPITAL chiefs have finally vowed to bring Oxford’s cancer services under one roof after a year of delays.

The decision means equipment last year donated for the new service can at last be used.

Head and neck cancer services were due to move to the Churchill Hospital’s Oxford Cancer Centre, which opened in 2009, in July last year.

But they remained split between surgery at the John Radcliffe Hospital and therapies at the Churchill because of finance and manpower concerns.

However, hospital bosses have now agreed to provide services in the Churchill’s Blenheim Suite as early as November.

Campaigner and former tonsil cancer patient Ralph Goodson praised the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust decision.

He said: “It is a vicious and nasty disease. Patients deserve the best of care and that can now be provided.

“Patients have had to tramp around different sites to receive their treatment.”

Different workers like speech therapists and dentists can work better under one roof and in more suitable environments, he said.

Mr Goodson, who was treated in 2005, said, for example, patients whose facial appearance was affected from surgery have waited in a JR corridor.

He said: “That is just not dignified. Very often, children stare at things like that.”

Oxford Laryngectomy Club secretary Gordon Vacher said: “It is good news, common sense has prevailed.

“It will make a massive difference. They will have a nicer area and won’t have to travel around different hospitals.”

The group was furious after raising £11,000 over a decade for two ear, nose and throat diagnosis machines, only for them to gather dust at the centre.

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Since the money was raised, two of the main fundraisers – club secretary Judy Skyrme and Ken Whiley – have passed away without seeing it used.

The club had previously warned a further £8,000 currently being raised through the sale of F1 clothes and collectables would not be sent to the hospital.

But Mr Vacher said he was glad common sense had now prevailed.

He said: “We are over the moon that at last the money we worked so hard for will be put to some use.”

Carterton mum-of-four Angie Bryant, who was treated for tonsil cancer in 2010, said: “The treatment is emotionally draining over a long period of time.

“It is important you are forming relationships with the staff and this will make that a lot easier.”

Bosses put plans on hold over concerns the Churchill did not have enough space and because of pressure on staff from an expansion of other services.

A reduction in cash support from the Government and a new regime of fines for readmitted patients further put the project in doubt.

Trust board members were told changes to operating theatre schedules at the Churchill and a new high dependency unit can tackle the problems.

The date of the transfer will be agreed when further plans are put to the board in July and will happen as early as November 1.

Chief executive Sir Jonathan Michael said there was “strong support of patients and staff” for the proposal.

Chairman Dame Fiona Caldicott said: “I am very sorry it has been so lengthy, but I think that inevitable in the circumstances we found ourselves in.”

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