Patients face trek to Cambridge

East Anglian patients with cancer of the pancreas are likely to have to travel to Cambridge for surgery under plans to centralise the service.A consultation is now beginning into the proposals, which are supposed to improve the quality of treatment.

East Anglian patients with cancer of the pancreas are likely to have to travel to Cambridge for surgery under plans to centralise the service.

A consultation is now beginning into the proposals, which are supposed to improve the quality of treatment. It means that pancreatic surgery will no longer happen at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital or Ipswich Hospital.

Instead people will have to go to Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge - a 125-mile round trip from the N&N.

Pancreatic cancer is rare, with 7,600 new cases a year in the UK, 2-300 in the east of England and about 30 at the N&N. It has the lowest survival rate of any cancer with only around 13pc of people still alive a year after diagnosis, and 2-3pc after five years.


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At the moment there are three specialist centres in the east of England - Cambridge, Ipswich and Norwich - but none treat enough people to meet the criteria laid out in the Department of Health's Improving Outcomes Guidance. So Addenbrooke's is being proposed by the East of England Specialised Commissioning Group as the regional centre. Staff at the hospital will lead a network of specialists at the region's other hospitals. People will still be able to get their diagnosis and most treatment at the N&N, but if they need surgery would have to travel to Cambridge.

Rory Harvey, consultant gastro-enterologist at Bedford Hospital and chairman of the project steering group, said: “A specialised centre would improve survival chances, give patients a better chance of having longer with their families and provide a better quality of life.”

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When the proposals were revealed in December, Simon Wemyss Holden, cancer lead director at the N& N and a specialist in pancreatic cancer at the time, said “It is crazy to think about moving services from either place based on population and not on outcomes.” He did not want to comment further yesterday.

The Norfolk and Waveney Cancer Patients and Carers Partnership held a survey of patients, which found that they were opposed to the plans.

There is a consultation event in Great Yarmouth on April 21 at the Cobholm & Lichfield Resource Centre, 10am to noon, and a discussion workshop between 2pm and 4pm - book for the workshop on 01371 877263 or email pancreatic@eoescg.nhs.uk.

People can also write or email with their views, or use the online form at www.escg.nhs.uk. The deadline for feedback is Monday, June 1.

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