Radiotherapy travel concerns are key thanks to 'people power'

West Cornwall MP Derek Thomas has hailed ‘people power’ in ensuring that West Cornwall residents will not face unnecessarily long and expensive journeys to access radiotherapy treatment.

In late 2017, following NHS England’s announcement of £132 million to modernise radiotherapy services across the country, Mr Thomas was contacted by numerous constituents worried about the effect the proposals would have on their journey times; he urged them – and anyone concerned with healthcare services in Cornwall – to take part in the consultation ‘Modernising radiotherapy services in England’. 

More than 11,500 people submitted an online response, 90 per cent of them from the South West, and NHS England now say that “travel was by far the largest theme to emerge from the consultation”.

“As a result of the concerns expressed that many more people would need to travel further for radiotherapy treatment, NHS England has made a number of significant changes to the proposals,” says a report published on Monday.

Mr Thomas commented: “The changes that NHS England have made to their original proposals do show that ‘people power’ – in this case through taking part in a consultation – does work.

“Many people contacted me with thoroughly justifiable fears that they or their loved ones would face unacceptably long and expensive journeys for their vital radiotherapy treatment.

“NHS England has taken these concerns on board and say that changes they have made should provide assurance that there is no plan to alter the current patient pathways for radiotherapy and that there will be no impact on people’s travel arrangements.”

The changes to the radiotherapy services in England will take place in April with the launch of 11 Radiotherapy Operational Delivery Networks; NHS England say they will allow the networks to bed in over a period of 2-3 years.

During this time, there will be opportunities for clinicians, patients groups and members of the public to get involved in the development of this work through membership of Cancer Alliances and NHS England’s specialised commissioning Clinical Reference Groups.

To keep up to date on progress you can register as a radiotherapy Clinical Reference Group stakeholder