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"NHS cuts will kill patients" top Cancer doctors warn
10 April 2014
Heavy cuts to the NHS and cancer units are directly placing the lives of cancer patients at risk, according to the UK’s leading brain doctors.
The warning arose from a highly critical letter to NHS bosses where a lead consultant neurosurgeon, Matthias Radatz, said that: “The changes last year were draconian and patients who wait for radiosurgery have been left totally in limbo.
“To the layman it’s appalling. To the expert it’s appalling.”
Radatz, as well as a group of other experts, expressed the shocking warning after hearing about the planned closure of 18 specialist centres in the NHS which treat victims of brain cancer. The blame for these closures is squarely placed at the feet of the current coalition ConDem government and the changes they put into effect a year ago. The changes were spearheaded by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and is just part of his plan to cut £20 billion from the NHS budget by 2015.
Mistreatment.com hears from members of the public who are worried about the impact of cuts on cancer and radiotherapy departments; specifically they discuss the lack of appropriate radiotherapy machines and the fact that they are either outdated or are not utilised properly with regards to their care. As a result of ineffective clinical management due to cuts, many cancers are going undetected and being exacerbated due to lack of proper diagnosis and treatment.
The letter was originally leaked the Daily Mirror newspaper and in it 13 of Britain’s top clinicians express frustration and anger at the way the new set-up is progressing with some of the chances completely altering the likelihood of patient care outcomes. Some of the specific worries they expressed are:
-The cutting of specialist units from 25 to just 7
-Restricting access to advanced radiotherapy treatments
-Low numbers of trained staff
-Delays to treatment
-Expensive radiotherapy and cancer machines failing to be used on patients and which are instead sitting “idle”
"There are multiple problems"
The letter, signed by every member of the Radiosurgery Clinical Review Group (RCRG) representing every region in England, says: “There is significant concern about potential risk of harming individual patients due to delayed treatment.”
Dr Radatz wrote the letter which further continues: “We felt this structure was already well-established and in place and there would be no need to re-invent the wheel and that commissioning should continue.”
“There are multiple problems – we have offered to assist NHS England but I’ve had no feedback to this letter yet,” he said.
"Radiotherapy has descended into chaos"
A senior NHS clinician who was involved with the sending of the letter is Director of Commissioning for Specialist Services NHS England James Palmer who said: “This is a cry for help from the very best cancer doctors this country has to offer.
“Radiotherapy has descended into chaos in just one year under NHS England. New cancer centres have been cancelled and machines worth millions are sitting idle in hospitals because NHS England’s bureaucrats refuse to let them be used on NHS patients.
“David Cameron promised us more radiotherapy for more cancer patients, we can see today that NHS England is making him look like a fool.”
Labour MP Grahame Morris warned: “The decisions being made by NHS England to close specialist cancer treatment centres will cost lives. I am disturbed about the contents of this letter from such senior neurosurgeons.
“It shows the depth of concern about changes in the NHS which will restrict access to life-saving treatments.
"There is more work to be done"
An NHS England spokesperson said: “On behalf of patients we have to get our resources in the right place to benefit the most patients.
“We cannot have expensive facilities underused. The emerging findings of the internal review report do suggest that there is excess capacity and poor utilisation across the current providers which is not in the best interest of patients.
“Following feedback there is more work to be done on understanding the future numbers of patients that need treatment for the clinical conditions already described in the national clinical policies.
“It is important that we have the right provision in the right place delivered by a full team of clinicians to best serve patients and make the money available go as far as it possibly can.”
What's your view?
Mistreatment.com has a number of specialist departments which deal with enquiries relating to a variety of medical health complaints and medical related negligence areas. Mistreatment.com was created to listen to talk to people who feel that they had nobody at the NHS to listen to them when something went wrong. Members of the public who call through to us often want to raise an issue within NHS care so that somebody else is not affected the way their and their loved ones have been. Sometimes they call through to us to make a medical negligence claim because a financial settlement is needed to rebuild their life and to take care of their family. If you have experienced a form of medical mistreatment through emergency services, A&E or through surgery, for example, you can speak to the experts at Mistreatment.com