RADIATION from patients leaving a cancer clinic in Littlemore could poison schoolchildren on local buses, an Oxford academic has warned.

Dr Stephen Kennedy of Oxford University has raised the concerns over an application from Genesis Care UK to expand its treatment centre at East Point Business Park to offer new PET-CT scans.

Dr Kennedy, a researcher at the Nuffield department of women’s and reproductive health, has warned that patients leaving the centre would emit low levels of radiation for a few hours afterwards, posing a potential risk to schoolchildren on public transport.

In an objection lodged against the company's change-of-use planning application to the city council, Dr Kennedy said: “This risk has not been declared to the schools, nor to parents.

“If they are in close proximity on a bus next to children, those children will be exposed to completely unnecessary radioactivity.

“The dose from an individual patient will be small and within legal limits, however, there will be a potentially cumulative effect over months and years from exposure that could take place on a daily basis.”

Oxford Mail:

A PET-CT scan combines a CT scan and a PET scan to give detailed information about patient’s cancer.

The CT scan takes a series of X-Rays to create a 3D image of the body area, while the PET scan uses a mildly radioactive drug to show where cells are more active than normal – indicating possible cancerous areas.

Genesis Care UK plans to provide the scans at Orion House – an extension to the current facility located at nearby Beaumont House.

Oxford Mail:

Orion House

Chief medical officer Dr Penny Kechagioglou revealed the firm would ensure patients did not travel via public transport to minimise any risk.

She said patients would be thoroughly prepared in advance of their scans adding: “This includes information to inform them that they will still be emitting ionising radiation for a small period of time after their scan and that they should not come into close contact with pregnant women and young children for six hours afterwards.

“Due to this, we ensure all of our patients either attend via car or are provided with private transport.

“This reduces any contact and hence risk from the patient interacting with members of the public.”

Up to 1,000 private patients are expected to be treated at the centre in the first year.

Headteacher at the nearby Oxford Academy, Andy Hardy, said the school would put its trust in existing controls in place to cover the risk.

In a statement he said: “We have looked at the planning application and given full consideration and due diligence as to how it may impact the operation of The Oxford Academy.

“We feel that this legitimate business has the right to operate adjacent to the school site. We are not qualified medical experts and have to trust the controls which have been put in place to cover any concerns that have been raised, by others, for our students and staff.”