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Dismay as new cancer centre plans are scrapped
PLANS for a £4m Oxford specialist cancer centre have been scrapped over fears it will not attract NHS funding.
A private health firm was bidding to build a centre for highly specialised gamma knife surgery at Headington’s Manor Hospital to take NHS patients.
About 100 to 150 people have to go to specialist centres in London or Sheffield each year for the treatment, which beams radiation into the brain.
Nuffield Health was confident NHS Oxfordshire managers would send health service patients to the centre, and began planning – but now it says it will not go ahead because the NHS is reviewing the need for the service.
Public health minister Jane Ellison MP had even agreed to lay the foundation stone for the Oxford Gamma Knife Centre last Thursday.
But responsibility for the funding was passed to NHS England from April last year after a major reorganisation of the NHS – and it says it is now reassessing national demand for the technique.
Cancer campaigner Clive Stone – who paid £30,456 in total for two gamma knife procedures in 2012 and 2013 – last night hit out at the news.
His lobbying of Prime Minister David Cameron led to NHS funding for the treatment, including 29 more procedures for himself.
The Eynsham resident 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.”
He said having it in Oxford would open it up to a much bigger catchment area.
A letter from Nuffield Oxford Radiosurgery Centre director Lynne Brooks, co-signed by 10 neurosurgeons, was sent to Miss Ellison and Mr Cameron telling them about the end of the project.
Mrs Brooks told the Oxford Mail: “Prior to last April, we had a positive and supportive relationship with our local commissioners.
“We were all working together to bring this state-of-the-art technology to Oxford so that patients here did not have to travel great distances.
“Halting this project is a huge blow to a local integrated service at one of the top neuroscience centres in the UK. We are all extremely disappointed.”
An NHS England spokes-man said: “NHS England is undertaking a specific demand and capacity review of stereotactic radiosurgery/ radiotherapy for intracranial conditions.
“It will review patient need for the service then consider whether the appropriate technology and capacity requirements are in place.”
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