Around 267 cancer patients a month across North Lincolnshire are expected to be affected by changes to “under pressure” oncology services, according to hospital trust figures.
Oncology services at Scunthorpe Hospital have been stopped and moved to Diana Princess of Wales Hospital in Grimsby and Castle Hill Hospital in Cottingham, near Hull, due to staffing concerns.
Inpatient and outpatient appointments have been moved from the site, but cancer surgery and chemotherapy will remain available at Scunthorpe Hospital.
Bosses at both Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust and Hull University Teaching Hospitals, which runs the service, said the move is temporary.
The trusts said national “workforce pressures” and “recruitment difficulties” for oncology specialists were part of the decision to consolidate oncology at Grimsby.
According to NLaG board papers, the decision will affect around 267 patients per month in northern Lincolnshire.
Meanwhile, eight patients per month with gynaecological or renal cancers will be effected in North East Lincolnshire.
The papers say: “Oncology services have been provided at Scarborough, Bridlington, Diana Princess of Wales and Scunthorpe General hospitals by HUTH for a number of years.
“The provision of this service has been under increasing pressure for many years due to workforce pressures and recruitment difficulties.
“Despite every effort to maintain the current mode of consultant-led care, the situation is worsening and now requires an alternative model to be urgently implemented in conjunction with all stakeholders.”
Changes to oncology were put in place on Monday (January 27) and officials at the Humber Cancer Board are expected to review the plan in three months time.
Hospital bosses said patients have been informed of the change and that they were working to “minimise” any impact on those who require transport as a result of the move.
But Scunthorpe MP Holly Mumby-Croft said the move was “unacceptable” and asked health minister, Edward Argar, to visit Scunthorpe Hospital to discuss the issue with NHS staff.
In the House of Commons, she said: “Last week, due to ongoing workforce challenges, Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust temporarily transferred all oncology services to Grimsby hospital.
“This is not acceptable to local patients and can I ask the Secretary of State to join me on a visit to Scunthorpe Hospital, so that we can discuss this and other issues with local NHS staff?”
Mr Argar said he would “take a close interest” in the matter and that he “would be happy” to visit the hospital.
Professor Russell Patmore, Consultant in Haematology at Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, apologised to patients for the temporary change but added that it offers the best chance for the right care.
“We apologise to anyone affected by the current changes to oncology services in our region,” he said.
“Recent advances in the treatment of oncology patients particularly immunotherapy and targeted radiotherapy mean that we are seeing better outcomes for cancer patients than ever before.
“The downside of this is that it has increased pressure on all services nationally and even internationally, stretching resources further and making it more challenging to deliver a full service in all areas of the country.
“Across the UK recruiting to specialist oncology posts has become more difficult as a further consequence of clinical advances.
“As a result hospitals in Hull, Scarborough, the East Riding of Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire and Goole, working with the Humber, Coast and Vale Cancer Alliance have taken the decision together to focus the provision of services for some patients in a smaller number of centres.
“Specifically, patients who have oncology outpatient appointments at Scarborough, Bridlington and Scunthorpe hospitals, or inpatient oncology at Scunthorpe will be given the choice to attend either Diana, Princess of Wales Hospital in Grimsby or Castle Hill Hospital in Cottingham for their appointments.
“We acknowledge that this is less convenient for some patients, however we can assure patients and their families that this offers them the best chance of receiving the right care for them at the right time.”
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