NHS England is working with the East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust to determine the best way to deliver radiotherapy services to patients in Stevenage. This is part of a system-wide NHS England review of the way in which radiotherapy services are delivered.
Hertfordshire has more than 1 million people and no radiotherapy provision. My constituents have to travel more than 80 miles for every treatment, which means thousands of miles during the course of their treatment—there is no public transport. My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for North East Hertfordshire (Sir Oliver Heald) and I have run this campaign for a number of years, and we have all the agreements from every part of the NHS. We are meeting the board of the trust on Friday, so will the Minister give them a direction to get on with building the facility?
All trusts have been directed to get on with the review. The NHS England specialised commissioning team is in discussions with my hon. Friend’s local trust as it develops its five-year strategic plan for the cancer pathways. It is working with his local cancer alliance, including radiotherapy services. It is recognised that a more radical approach and a broader review of the radiotherapy options may be required in future. As my hon. Friend says, he and my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for North East Hertfordshire (Sir Oliver Heald) have that meeting later this week, and I hope the discussions are productive. I feel sure that my hon. Friend will come back to me if they are not.
Would my hon. Friend be prepared to highlight to the review team just how dreadful it is for somebody to have to travel day after day, for an hour and a half in each direction, to London for radiotherapy when they are already ill? I hope it might be possible for some action to be taken to resolve this issue in our area.
Obviously my right hon. and learned Friend is right to speak up for services in his area. The review is not about cutting those services, but about making sure that they are in the right places. We have to be mindful that sometimes the services have to be centralised to be in the right place to deliver the right outcomes for cancer patients.