Health bosses set to put in £272m bid to re-organise cancer services in Hertfordshire

Proposals have been drawn up to relocate Mount Vernon Cancer Centre to Watford

Tuesday, 27th July 2021, 3:08 pm

Health bosses are to put in a £272m bid to re-organise cancer services in the region as early as September.

Proposals have been drawn up to relocate the Mount Vernon Cancer Centre, Northwood, to a new site site adjoining the Watford General Hospital.

And, as part of the proposals, there would be a further satellite radiotherapy unit at Luton and Dunstable Hospital OR the Lister Hospital, in Stevenage.

Proposals have been drawn up to relocate the Mount Vernon Cancer Centre, Northwood, to a new site site adjoining the Watford General Hospital

On Wednesday (July 22) Jessamy Kingshorn, from NHS England, told Hertfordshire's Health Scrutiny Committee that the plans had now been costed at £229m plus VAT.

And, she said, a bid for funding would be submitted within weeks, after the government asked for 'expressions for interest' for capital funding.

The government expects to 'long-list' the bids by the end of this year, with final decisions made in Spring 2022.

And once funding has been secured, consultation on the cancer services proposals will go ahead.

According to details presented to the committee, the proposals would include a full range of in and out patient services at the Watford site - including cancer imaging, haematology, a brachytherapy theatre and interventional theatre.

There would be a radiotherapy centre at Luton and Dunstable or The Lister. And there would be chemotherapy services at six sites - and at Hillingdon.

As part of the plans, minor procedures like blood tests would be provided by local hospitals - rather than the main cancer centre.

It is not yet clear whether the bid will be submitted by the East and North Herts NHS Trust- which currently operates the Mount Vernon site - or by UCLH, which is expected to take it over.

Cllr Richard Thake told the committee this was 'a much needed centre' and asked whether it would be better to consult, before the funding was applied for.

But Ms Kingshorn said the process was that consultation had to follow funding, so public expectations weren't raised.

The plans to reorganise cancer services come after an independent clinical report in 2019 highlighted the need for immediate and longer term changes at Mount Vernon.

It said the current site - built as a TB hospital in 1904 - was 'dilapidated and not fit for purpose'.

And it pointed to the need to relocate specialist cancer services in a new centre on an acute hospital site - as well as changes to make the service safer in the meantime.

The report to the Health Scrutiny Committee on Wednesday stressed that staff at the centre continue to work hard to provide 'excellent' services for patients.

But it says "the ability for them to deliver specialist, new, and world-leading treatments for patients is becoming increasingly challenging."

Currently - because of a lack of supporting services on the site - newer and experimental treatments are not available at the Northwood site. And treatment for blood cancer cannot be provided either .

If a patient's condition worsens while they are at the Mount Vernon site they currently have to be transferred to another non-specialist hospital - such as Watford General.