Scandal of cancer patients forced to travel 300 mile-round trip for life-saving treatment

Scandal of cancer patients forced to travel 300 mile-round trip for life-saving treatment

LONG WAITING TIMES: Dorset County Hospital

300-MILE ROUND TRIP: Patients will have to go to Slough

STRANDED: Prostate cancer patient David Mountford

TALKS: Patient governor Derek Julian will meet MP Oliver Letwin

First published in News Dorset Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Reporter

CANCER patients are being forced to make a 300-mile round trip for life-saving operations.

Action has been demanded because the nearest hospital for West Dorset people who suffer with prostate cancer and need to have robotic assisted surgery (RAS) is in Slough.

One patient has told the Echo he had been on the waiting list for six months and was ‘stranded in Slough’ after his operation.

West Dorset MP Oliver Letwin will be meeting with a Dorset County Hospital governor to discuss the issue today.

As previously reported, Dorset County Hospital apologised to 15 men who had been left waiting for operations.

But waiting times will continue to go over the target of 62 days because the main hospital to which West Dorset patients are referred has had its service put under review.

In November, the Royal Bournemouth Hospital ann-ounced the purchase of a £1.6m ‘Da Vinci’ robot which can perform minimally invasive surgery.

But it failed to get the go-ahead and can’t take on any new referrals.

In order to get authorisation, a hospital must serve a population of one million and see 150 cases of prostate cancer a year.

The population of Dorset is around 750,000.

Dorset County Hospital chief executive Jean O’Callaghan said: “Bournemouth purchased the robot and announced it before they were really ready to deliver the service.

“NHS England has said you have got to have a population of one million and Bournemouth does not meet the guidelines.

“No new robotic treatment can be carried out until a review has been done.”

Mrs O’Callaghan said it is ‘looking very unlikely’ that Bournemouth will get the go-ahead.

Those already on the list will receive treatment at Bourne-mouth, but the hospital will not take on any more West Dorset prostate cancer patients.

Dorset’s nearest hospitals – Southampton, Bristol, Exeter and Devon – are all unable to take any more.

Because of this, they are being sent to Wexham Park in Berkshire – the nearest hospital with available space.

Patient governor Andy Hutchings said this gave him ‘grave concerns’.

In January, Wexham Park was given six formal warning notices following an unannounced inspection in which it failed to meet eight of nine national standards. Mr Hutchings added: “Those patients are really suffering from a life-threatening condition and some have gone to Wexham Park, which is subject to a damning Care Quality Commission report.

“Something has got to be done for these people.

“How are we going to get the surgery for them?

“These are our patients and we should be doing all we can to look after them.”

Patients can have laparoscopic surgery but the outcomes from the robotic surgery are better.

Governors will be writing to the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Health secretary Jeremy Hunt.

EXTRA STRESS ON TOP OF THE WORRY

A PROSTATE cancer patient has said the ‘inconvenience’ of going to Slough added extra stress to an already worrying time.

Although David Mountford has ‘nothing but praise’ for the staff at Wexham Park, he was left stranded after his operation.

Patients are not able to drive after having the surgery.

Mr Mountford, 60, had used the Dorset patient transfer service – which has recently been blasted as ‘diabolical’ – to get to Slough.

But after his operation he was told he would have to get a private taxi back to Bridport, paid for by Wexham Park.

The journey home, he said, took almost four hours. Mr Mountford added: “It’s supposed to be diagnosis, then in to hospital as soon as possible to get the cancer removed and then you’ll be on the road to recovery.

“But I was just left waiting.

“When I did finally get a date for the operation, it was only a short stay in hospital.

“But the inconvenience of going all the way to Slough made it worse.

“It’s not good.”

Mr Mountford said that for a long time he was left believing his operation would take place at Bournemouth.

And he said being left waiting for an operation date ‘added panic and stress’ to the situation.

He said: “We were worrying that the wait might have made my condition worse.

“We didn’t know, because there were no more follow-up appointments. We were just left hanging on.

“I was ringing and ringing and nobody was picking up the phone.

“I have no problems with the care I received at Wexham, I was cared for very well.

“I couldn’t have asked for any more from the consultant and the nurses.

“But having to go all the way to Slough and having that long wait added a lot of stress to the situation.”

GOVERNOR RAISES ISSUES WITH WEST DORSET MP OLIVER LETWIN

PATIENT governor Derek Julian will be meeting West Dorset MP Oliver Letwin today to discuss the situation.

Speaking after the governor’s meeting, Mr Julian said he did not blame Dorset County Hospital but said the situation needed to be reviewed ‘urgently.’ He added: “We should be really annoyed about this.

“We need to put it very forcefully that this situation is unacceptable.

“It is already too long to have been waiting at 62 days.

“When you are diagnosed with cancer, action needs to be taken as quickly as possible.”

ROBOT SURGERY A PREFERRED TECHNIQUE

A SPOKESMAN for The Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “Robotic assisted surgery (RAS) is an increasingly popular alternative to laparoscopic surgery, principally for cancer.


“Our Trust is the designated local centre for major urological cancers and purchased a Da Vinci robot jointly with a local charity last autumn, after extensive discussions with commissioners and other local health partners. 


“By the end of March 2014, the Trust will have treated approximately 35 patients diagnosed with malignant prostate cancer.
“The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) published guidance for the management of prostate cancer, including RAS, in January 2014.


“This included indicative numbers of 150 cases per centre per year.
“But only a few centres in the NHS are working at that level. 


“NHS England recently published guidance halting the commissioning of new robotic services, pending the production of a new national commissioning policy for RAS.
“While we await this policy, we will not be adding names to the existing waiting list for RAS, meaning that patients from across the county will have to go further afield, and wait longer for robotic surgery. 

We are involved in detailed, senior level discussions with local commissioners to provide clarity over the short-term future of robotic assisted surgery in Dorset while NHS England develops the national commissioning policy.”

Comments (15)

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7:30am Fri 14 Mar 14

The Fish says...

300 round mile trip, when Slough is only 100 miles from Dorchester - interesting route!
300 round mile trip, when Slough is only 100 miles from Dorchester - interesting route! The Fish
  • Score: 7

8:09am Fri 14 Mar 14

sunny1966 says...

There will still be idiots out there who vote this government back into power and all their hang on’ers who sit in their ivory towers making decisions on people’s lives. It will not be long before you start hearing reports of people left on trolleys in corridors at DCH and other horrors, because believe me that’s the way it’s going.
There will still be idiots out there who vote this government back into power and all their hang on’ers who sit in their ivory towers making decisions on people’s lives. It will not be long before you start hearing reports of people left on trolleys in corridors at DCH and other horrors, because believe me that’s the way it’s going. sunny1966
  • Score: 7

8:36am Fri 14 Mar 14

Nomalice says...

Am I missing something? If the Equipment has been bought and installed, and the qualified operators , are already on site and working in Bournemouth,why is it necessary to subject this patient to an arduous round trip of 266 miles? ( And, YES, possibly 300 via Bournemouth).
Once again, Budgets, Figures, Numbers, Statistics, Targets,Quangoes, Talking Shops,etc., are preventing patients receiving, and willing, skilled,professional
s, delivering the best available treatment.
If the required numbers (150) are not "available" in Dorset, treat those in surrounding counties. Is that not an obvious solution?
Am I missing something? If the Equipment has been bought and installed, and the qualified operators , are already on site and working in Bournemouth,why is it necessary to subject this patient to an arduous round trip of 266 miles? ( And, YES, possibly 300 via Bournemouth). Once again, Budgets, Figures, Numbers, Statistics, Targets,Quangoes, Talking Shops,etc., are preventing patients receiving, and willing, skilled,professional s, delivering the best available treatment. If the required numbers (150) are not "available" in Dorset, treat those in surrounding counties. Is that not an obvious solution? Nomalice
  • Score: 8

10:43am Fri 14 Mar 14

MaidofDorset says...

If Dorset only has three quarters of the population to have one of these machines, but charity fundraising finds the other quarter of funds..........

I really can't get my head around the situation. These are cancer patients...waiting a very long time.
If Dorset only has three quarters of the population to have one of these machines, but charity fundraising finds the other quarter of funds.......... I really can't get my head around the situation. These are cancer patients...waiting a very long time. MaidofDorset
  • Score: 5

11:38am Fri 14 Mar 14

portland rebel says...

because people don't matter, and budgets do...
because people don't matter, and budgets do... portland rebel
  • Score: 1

11:44am Fri 14 Mar 14

mino4994 says...

The Fish wrote:
300 round mile trip, when Slough is only 100 miles from Dorchester - interesting route!
Yes but the western edge of Dorset is not Dorchester and there could be people with prostate cancer there too so probably that's the distance referred to
[quote][p][bold]The Fish[/bold] wrote: 300 round mile trip, when Slough is only 100 miles from Dorchester - interesting route![/p][/quote]Yes but the western edge of Dorset is not Dorchester and there could be people with prostate cancer there too so probably that's the distance referred to mino4994
  • Score: 2

1:40pm Fri 14 Mar 14

Swerving says...

As a Prostate Cancer patient receiving treatment at Dorset County Hospital, I would like to,

a, point out that this surgery is not the only treatment available, in fact I believe this surgery to be used in a rare number of cases.. and
b, Thank staff in both Urology and Oncology Departments for their excellent attentive care.

I diagnosis of Prostate Cancer is whilst obviously serious, not 'The End'
and a positive mental attitude will help enormously, so dont be scared by this or stories like it
As a Prostate Cancer patient receiving treatment at Dorset County Hospital, I would like to, a, point out that this surgery is not the only treatment available, in fact I believe this surgery to be used in a rare number of cases.. and b, Thank staff in both Urology and Oncology Departments for their excellent attentive care. I diagnosis of Prostate Cancer is whilst obviously serious, not 'The End' and a positive mental attitude will help enormously, so dont be scared by this or stories like it Swerving
  • Score: 2

3:09pm Fri 14 Mar 14

IDONTKNOWIFITISTRRUE says...

The Fish says... 300 round mile trip, when Slough is only 100 miles from Dorchester - interesting route!

According to Google maps, Lyme Regis, DORSET to Slough is around 280 miles round trip taking around 3.5 hours.
The Fish says... 300 round mile trip, when Slough is only 100 miles from Dorchester - interesting route! According to Google maps, Lyme Regis, DORSET to Slough is around 280 miles round trip taking around 3.5 hours. IDONTKNOWIFITISTRRUE
  • Score: 3

3:57pm Fri 14 Mar 14

radiator says...

There is nothing new about having to travel to another Hospital for specialist treatment for instance heart ops are usually carried out in Southampton and London, this has been the case for years. I know if I had the chance of a better outcome of an operation travelling for a few hours would be worth it..
There is nothing new about having to travel to another Hospital for specialist treatment for instance heart ops are usually carried out in Southampton and London, this has been the case for years. I know if I had the chance of a better outcome of an operation travelling for a few hours would be worth it.. radiator
  • Score: 4

11:01pm Fri 14 Mar 14

Sigurd Hoberth says...

Meanwhile the tax payer pays around 20 million a week for 200,000 abortions a year because of women's bad personal choices.

It is a morally corrupt culture that places precedent, financially and priority, on killing life over saving it.
Meanwhile the tax payer pays around 20 million a week for 200,000 abortions a year because of women's bad personal choices. It is a morally corrupt culture that places precedent, financially and priority, on killing life over saving it. Sigurd Hoberth
  • Score: 5

11:04pm Fri 14 Mar 14

Sigurd Hoberth says...

correction, 2 million a week. but the rest remains the same message.(1 million on women having repeat abortions) western culture eh?
correction, 2 million a week. but the rest remains the same message.(1 million on women having repeat abortions) western culture eh? Sigurd Hoberth
  • Score: 3

11:32pm Fri 14 Mar 14

ksmain says...

radiator wrote:
There is nothing new about having to travel to another Hospital for specialist treatment for instance heart ops are usually carried out in Southampton and London, this has been the case for years. I know if I had the chance of a better outcome of an operation travelling for a few hours would be worth it..
Yeh - I kinda feel that The Echo likes to bash our local hospital service whenever it feels it can get the opportunity.

Of course we forget that hospital service in this country is generally still free - unlike many hospital services around the world.
[quote][p][bold]radiator[/bold] wrote: There is nothing new about having to travel to another Hospital for specialist treatment for instance heart ops are usually carried out in Southampton and London, this has been the case for years. I know if I had the chance of a better outcome of an operation travelling for a few hours would be worth it..[/p][/quote]Yeh - I kinda feel that The Echo likes to bash our local hospital service whenever it feels it can get the opportunity. Of course we forget that hospital service in this country is generally still free - unlike many hospital services around the world. ksmain
  • Score: 0

11:38pm Fri 14 Mar 14

ksmain says...

IDONTKNOWIFITISTRRUE wrote:
The Fish says... 300 round mile trip, when Slough is only 100 miles from Dorchester - interesting route!

According to Google maps, Lyme Regis, DORSET to Slough is around 280 miles round trip taking around 3.5 hours.
But at least his treatment is still free - it would cost him a few thousand quid if it wasn't?

Bit of Echo non-story again IMO.
[quote][p][bold]IDONTKNOWIFITISTRRUE[/bold] wrote: The Fish says... 300 round mile trip, when Slough is only 100 miles from Dorchester - interesting route! According to Google maps, Lyme Regis, DORSET to Slough is around 280 miles round trip taking around 3.5 hours.[/p][/quote]But at least his treatment is still free - it would cost him a few thousand quid if it wasn't? Bit of Echo non-story again IMO. ksmain
  • Score: -1

7:36am Sat 15 Mar 14

JamesYoung says...

I tend to agree with Ksmain. You cannot expect to have the latest equipment available in every hospital and it makes sense to site it in areas where it will be most used. The Echo headline is a bit misleading as it infers that all cancer patients will now have to travel to Slough. Lastly, although it grieves me to have to agree with Sigurd/Cecil, there is a tremendous mismatch in allocation of funding between male and female healthcare.I can't remember the numbers, but if the NHS stopped screening for breast cancer and instead spent 1/8th of the savings on screening for aortic aneurism, it would save twice as many lives for 1/8th of the cost.
I tend to agree with Ksmain. You cannot expect to have the latest equipment available in every hospital and it makes sense to site it in areas where it will be most used. The Echo headline is a bit misleading as it infers that all cancer patients will now have to travel to Slough. Lastly, although it grieves me to have to agree with Sigurd/Cecil, there is a tremendous mismatch in allocation of funding between male and female healthcare.I can't remember the numbers, but if the NHS stopped screening for breast cancer and instead spent 1/8th of the savings on screening for aortic aneurism, it would save twice as many lives for 1/8th of the cost. JamesYoung
  • Score: 0

12:43pm Sun 16 Mar 14

oldbrock says...

just a pity cancer cells don't follow "guidelines"- well guys, better get breeding to increase the population to 1 million, then they'll need "guidelines" because of the increase in population..........
..politics and politicians........
just a pity cancer cells don't follow "guidelines"- well guys, better get breeding to increase the population to 1 million, then they'll need "guidelines" because of the increase in population.......... ..politics and politicians........ oldbrock
  • Score: 0

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