OXFORD East MP Andrew Smith has backed a call for the NHS to support a planned £4m specialist cancer centre.

The Labour MP said a private health firm’s plan for a centre for gamma knife radiation would bring a much-needed service to Oxfordshire and surrounding counties.

Nuffield Health said the plan for Headington’s Manor Hospital will mean 100 to 150 county patients will not have to travel to London or Sheffield each year.

But the plan was axed in February over concerns NHS England would not pay for patients to attend.

It said it is reviewing treatments like gamma knife, which beams radiation into the brain.

After seeing the site this month Mr Smith said: “It is a very sophisticated and modern way of focusing radiotherapy in the head so tumours can be targeted where it is very difficult and dangerous to operate.

“At the moment people have to go to places like Sheffield, so it is much-needed to make treatment readily available to patients in Oxford and Oxfordshire.

“They were on the cusp of going ahead with the build until NHS England said they were reviewing it.”

Mr Smith is to write to NHS England and the Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt in support of the project.

Director of Nuffield Health’s The Manor Hospital Simon James said: “It is a very important project for the people of Oxfordshire.

“The goal is to put a very innovative and well-used treatment into Oxfordshire that would mean 100 to 150 patients who travel up to Sheffield can have it locally. If you had brain cancer, would you want to be travelling up to Sheffield for treatment? Probably not.

“The NHS has a limited amount of money but everybody keeps kicking the football around while patients are suffering here.”

Oxford Mail: Clive Stone

Cancer campaigner Clive Stone, above, hit out in February when news came through that the plans had been dropped.

The Eynsham resident had to travel to Sheffield for gamma knife procedures in 2012 and 2013.

He said: “It’s appalling. I will fight this. It costs me getting on £200 every time I have to get the train up to Sheffield unaccompanied, which knocks you about.”

Spokeswoman for NHS England, Natalie Hagan, said: “NHS England is undertaking a specific demand and capacity review of stereotactic radiosurgery/radiotherapy for intracranial conditions.

“The project will review patient need for the service and then consider whether the appropriate technology and capacity requirements are in place.

“If, following the demand and capacity review, a change in provision is required, NHS will publish the details of any selection and procurement process.

“NHS England does not consider it appropriate to commission additional providers of stereotactic radiosurgery/radiotherapy services until the demand and capacity review is complete.”