NHS children’s cancer care consultation launched

NHS England London and NHS England South East have launched a consultation for the new site of children’s cancer care services and specialist treatment.

Known as Principal Treatment Centres (PTC), these facilities provide diagnosis and treatment for children and young people diagnosed with cancer.

An NHS public consultation on the future site has now opened and will close on Monday 18th December 2023.

Under current proposals, NHS England have identified the Evelina Hospital in Lambeth and St George’s Hospital in Tooting as potential sites for a new PTC.

NHS England have since declared their preference for the Evelina Hospital as the new site, citing their higher score in a pre-consultation evaluation of hospital services conducted by experts consisting of cancer specialists, parents, cancer charities, staff, researchers, and independent experts.

Exterior of Evelina Children's Hospital.
Evelina Children’s Hospital in Lambeth

However, such a move would result in the closure of the children’s cancer service at St George’s.

Presently, St George’s provides care in conjunction with the Royal Marsden in Sutton for children and young people with cancer in south London and south-east England.

Families local to the Tooting hospital have expressed their concern at the potential closure of these services.

St. George’s Hospital, Tooting

Emma van Klaveren Finlay said her daughter Floriana needed to travel to St George’s at least weekly during her care, and that journeying to central London would have negatively affected their stress levels.

Van Klaveren Finlay said “Caring for someone with cancer is a 24/7 job and the slightest thing means you have to leg it to the hospital – a raised temperature could mean sepsis. 

“You can’t easily drive to central London and you can’t take an immuno-compromised child on the tube, so it would have really added to the stress and expense. 

“I will be completely devastated if this change goes ahead.” 

Emma van Klaveren Finlay and Floriana with dad James and sister Ishbel.
Emma van Klaveren Finlay and Floriana with dad James and sister Ishbel.

Local parents have previously voiced their concern over the pre-consultation evaluation process.

In an address to the Wandsworth Health Committee in June, Jenny Houghton said it was ‘’shocking’’ that parents’ voices were not being listened to.

She said NHS England were unable or unwilling to answer questions about their proposals and spoke of the deep concerns parents had about the prospect of having to travel to central London for treatment.

She also said it was wholly unsatisfactory that very sick children would have to travel on public transport and that health chiefs had not considered these cost impacts.

Wandsworth Cllr Simon Hogg said: “Now is the time to make our voices heard.

“We’ve been very concerned to learn that parents feel they have not been sufficiently listened to in the NHS process so far.

“I urge residents to respond to the consultation, and write to the Health Secretary, to share their views on this vital issue, and make sure government is paying attention.”

More information on the public consultation can be found here.

NHS England have been contacted for comment.

Image Credits: Wandsworth Council
Image Credits: “Evelina Children’s Hospital, Lambeth” by David Anstiss and licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.
Image Credits: ”St. George’s Hospital, Tooting” by Richard Rogerson and licensed under this Creative Commons Licence

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