Health chiefs offer reassurance on Oxfordshire cancer care after leaked memo

Health chiefs offer reassurance on Oxfordshire cancer care after leaked memo

Health chiefs offer reassurance on Oxfordshire cancer care after leaked memo

This is according to a leaked memo from a senior doctor at Oxford's Churchill Hospital.

Dr Weaver added that, while he wants to protect treatments that aim to cure patients, chemotherapy cycles for later treatments that alleviate symptoms will have to be spaced out further or cut down.

"The internal email from Dr Andrew Weaver sets out some of the challenges facing our chemotherapy service, with his ideas for how to tackle these issues, and invites constructive comments and alternative proposals from other cancer doctors and clinical staff".

Weaver, who sent the memo on 3 January, identified a 40% shortfall in the number of specialist cancer nurses as the key cause of "difficulties" its day treatment unit (DTU) is having giving rising numbers of cancer patients chemotherapy quickly enough.

Dr Weaver is head of chemotherapy at the Oxford University Hospital Trust, wrote in the memo that "Currently we are down approximately 40% on the establishment of nurses on DTU and as a effect we are having to delay chemotherapy patients' starting times to 4 weeks". No such change has been agreed by Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

The spokesperson also said that no changes to chemotherapy treatment will be made before "thorough consideration has been given to all possible options".

"We have not made any decisions to delay the start of chemotherapy treatment or to reduce the number of cycles of chemotherapy treatment which patients with cancer receive", it said in a statement.

Their warning came after a leaked memo revealed that a leading NHS cancer centre may have to make patients wait longer to start chemotherapy or cut the amount of drugs they receive because it has huge staffing problems.

Labour MP Ms Berger said: "The Health Secretary said that the Government wanted to be the best in the world for cancer diagnosis, treatment and care".

Sir Harpal Singh, the chief executive of Cancer Research UK, warned that more hospitals may do the same as the Churchill unless ministers urgently tackled big holes in the NHS's cancer workforce.

According to the newspaper, Dr Weaver wrote: "Currently we are down approximately 40% on the establishment of nurses on DTU [day treatment unit] and as a outcome we are having to delay chemotherapy patients" starting times to four weeks'.

"Immediate action needs to be taken by the Government to deal with this, otherwise problems like the one at Oxford will become more widespread and more severe".

"We need to see concrete action on the recent plan by Health Education England to tackle NHS staff shortages", he continued.

An additional 150,000 people are expected to have cancer diagnosed annually by 2035. "This issue will not go away without decisive action".

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