Controversy over bid to axe cancer care

HEALTH bosses who hope to scrap pancreatic cancer surgery at Ipswich Hospital originally rejected the idea because of poor road and public transport links, it emerged today.

HEALTH bosses who hope to scrap pancreatic cancer surgery at Ipswich Hospital originally rejected the idea because of poor road and public transport links, it emerged today.

The East of England Specialised Commissioning Group (SCG) now wants to move the specialist surgery from Ipswich Hospital to Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge to create one East Anglian super centre designed to improve survival rates.

The move has been proposed to comply with national guidelines published in 2001.

However in 2005, the eastern specialist commissioning group, forerunner to the current SCG, decided to create two interim centres of pancreatic cancer surgery in the region rather than one, so both Addenbrooke's and Ipswich were chosen.


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The 2005 report said: “A decision at this stage to have one specialist centre in (the east) would incur a very significant risk of dislocation to current services, including those for severe benign pancreatic disease.

“Due to the geographical nature of (the east) and relatively poor road and public transport infrastructure, a second interim specialist centre should be designated in the south east of the area.”

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And it recommended that in 2007 the SCG should “confirm assessment of Ipswich as the second centre”. This never happened and now the SCG wants to only allow pancreatic cancer surgery at Addenbrooke's.

Trevor Myers, director of The East of England Specialised Commissioning Group's, which has been tasked with deciding where pancreatic cancer surgery should be based in the east, said: “The independent clinical review in 2005 recommended the designation of interim pancreatic cancer centres, in Cambridge and a joint centre between Norwich and Ipswich.

“It was agreed that a further review in 2007 would determine the final full designation. This gave the interim centres two years to progress towards compliance with the guidance.

“For Norwich and Ipswich, the recommendation was that Ipswich would take on the central specialised role and that Norwich would cease to provide specialist pancreatic surgery.

“The 2007 independent clinical review found that Cambridge had progressed the furthest towards compliance, while, for example, the 2005 recommendation to centralise services at Ipswich and for Norwich to cease surgery had not been implemented.”

Meanwhile Dr Rory Harvey, chairman of the East of England pancreatic cancer project steering group, said: “A central specialised multidisciplinary team is more experienced and in a better position to develop the latest techniques that will give more patients the best possible chances.”

Are you worried about the plans to move pancreatic cancer surgery to Cambridge? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

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