proposals to close the Mount Vernon Cancer Care Centre

Ruth Boff has provided an update from David Simmonds, MP on the proposals to close the Mount Vernon Cancer Care Centre:

“l recently met with the team at NHS England who are leading on this project and I do understand the issues which are at play. There was previously a clinician led review of the site, and they made a number of recommendations for how the cancer centre needs to be running going forward.

The first of these was a change in admissions policy. The reason for this is that far too many patients were being admitted and then later requiring transfer to another site. This admissions policy has now been changed but it does expose some of the other long term problems.

The second recommendation was that the cancer centre needs to be run but a specialist cancer trust and not a genera/ hospital trust. This is now in the process of taking place and from next year the site will no longer be run by East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust and will transfer to UCLH. This will not affect the on the ground staffing as the clinical team will remain the same, it is just a change of management with better specialism.

The final and most significant change is connected to the first point and that is that the Centre needs to be located an acute site. The reason for this is because as populations are getting older, more patients are also living with other illnesses or conditions which require treatment alongside their cancer treatment. Furthermore, when complications that arise from these therapies, patients require acute clinical opinions from other specialties. This cannot be provided for at Mount Vernon and so hence the need a new site.

The NHS have been open about the options this presents. The first option is a complete move to a new acute site and the second is a majority move with a smaller day centre remaining. This second option is obviously the best case scenario from our point of view and is the option I have now been pushing for. At present this is the preferred option within the NHS.

In terms of the move, the emerging option which looks to be most suitable is to have the centre located at Watford. This centre would be a standalone centre, within its own building and would continue to be run by UCLH. However, it would offer an enhanced service from what it is currently able to offer. Some of the sickest patients are currently having to travel into London for because of the limitations of the existing site and facilities.

I will be honest with the fact that the most affected patients are going to be those living in Hillingdon.  However, given the size of the Mount Vernon catchment area, and that only 14% of their patients are from Hillingdon we need to be realistic about where the most appropriate site might be. The team on this review have done a lot of research on travel times to all of the possible options and that is why Watford is appearing to be the preferred option. Given all this context, I think the most effective thing to do is to ensure we retain the day centre as has been discussed.

If the move did go ahead, it would be included as part of the new hospital at Watford. These plans are in their early days but I believe this would include a new multi-storey carpark to aid with both the availability and accessibility of carparking there. I also want to stress that while the majority of the services would move to Watford, it would be self contained in its own centre separate from the main General Hospital. We are also hoping for a small day centre to remain at Mount Vernon as well.

I am continuing to follow this all closely and a full public consultation is due to launch in June this year ahead of a final decision being made in October but this is where my thoughts are currently at. “