NHS bosses have taken the controversial step of moving specialist cancer surgery services out of Cornwall and into the neighbouring county of Devon.
Campaigners had fought to keep throat and neck cancer surgery at the Royal Cornwall Hospital (RCH) in Treliske, but their hopes were dashed after an independent review recommending the move to Derriford Hospital in Plymouth was rubber-stamped by the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Primary Care Trust.
The trust said the clinical review had clearly recommended that upper gastrointestinal (GI) surgery at RCH should be “discontinued as soon as possible and centralised”. One of the main factors highlighted in the review was that the death rate for GI surgery at the RCH was 9.4% compared with 4.9% at centralised units.
Ann James, the trust’s chief executive, said: “I have great respect for the local clinicians who have been providing this service but it is essential that the key recommendation to discontinue the service at RCH and centralise surgery is taken forward.
“Immediate steps will be taken with RCH to integrate local services with specialist centres in Plymouth and Exeter which are compliant with national guidance as this will support patient care with immediate effect.”
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“Upper GI cancer is not throat and neck cancer. That would be cancer of the larynx. The survival rate is low for all upper GI cancers (stomach, pancreas and oesophagus) and specialist centres are important to the improvement of this. Would it not be better to travel to a specialist centre than die in your local hospital?” – Anonymous, Lincolnshire, UK