Questions asked over cancer unit

SERIOUS questions need to be asked over the decision to locate a specialist cancer centre in Colchester rather than Ipswich, according to patient support groups.

SERIOUS questions need to be asked over the decision to locate a specialist cancer centre in Colchester rather than Ipswich, according to patient support groups.

An independent review is now to take place into the decision by the Mid Anglia Cancer Network to set up the specialist urology cancer centre in Colchester despite previously highlighting Ipswich as the preferred option.

Health bosses did a dramatic U-turn last week when the final decision was unveiled following a public consultation.

Patient support groups have welcomed the news of the review and say a number of serious questions must be asked about the legitimacy of the Mid Anglia Cancer Network's final decision.

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Brian Cole, secretary of the East Suffolk Prostate Cancer Support Group, said: "We are rather dismayed, as are all the Ipswich people, that the committee have decided to locate it in Colchester, despite the fact Ipswich had already been identified as the preferred centre."

"I'm not really shocked by the decision because we had some inkling of the way things were going.

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"There's a lot of politics involved.

"The network have completely reversed on their initial decision.

"What they seem to be saying is that all their initial decisions were ill-founded.

"It's a big disappointment."

Suffolk Coastal MP John Gummer has written to health secretary Dr John Reid to demand the situation be reversed.

Mr Gummer said: "What matters is that we have the best possible service in the area and I don't think it matters two hoots if it were in Colchester if that was the best place for it.

"But we need to be asking if they chose the right place, or if they chose the most convenient for the bureaucrats.

"It does look as if the bureaucrats have taken on the role which should be reserved for the experts."

The Strategic Health Authorities for Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Essex have now agreed to commission an independent review into the decision-making process after receiving complaints from a number of organisations including Ipswich Hospital.

Jan Rowsell, spokeswoman for Ipswich Hospital, said: "We were naturally disappointed with the decision not to bring it to Ipswich and we took time to reflect carefully and consider our options.

"We welcome the SHAs' decision to carry out the review."

A spokesman for the MACN said: "The MACN is dedicated to providing the best possible care for patients living in Mid and North Essex and Central and East Suffolk and, as such, is confident that the process to choose the site was proper and patient-focused.

"We welcome the strategic health authorities' decision to initiate an independent review into the process surrounding our decision and fully expect the review to endorse MACN's findings."

What do you think of the decision? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to

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