NHS hospitals in Essex are invited to express their interest in hosting a specialist centre for urological cancer surgery.
Following months of discussions with health chiefs and doctors on how the county can best meet national quality standards, agreement has been reached on the criteria for the service which will provide specialised surgery for prostate, bladder and kidney cancer for around 150 Essex patients a year.
Currently, these patients are treated at two hospitals – Colchester and Southend. National guidance introduced in 2002 by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence requires each centre to cover a population of at least a million people in order for surgeons and their teams to treat patients frequently enough to ensure a safe, high quality service, and further improving both one and five-year survival rates for urological cancers.
NHS England, who became responsible for commissioning the service in 2013, is formally inviting the five hospital trusts in Essex to indicate whether they wish to bid to run the new service.
The trusts will have until early February to submit their plans to an evaluation panel. Public engagement will then take place on those proposals that meet the criteria before a final decision is made next autumn. The new specialised service will launch early in 2017.
Once the new service has launched, GPs and other health professionals will continue to refer patients with suspected urological cancer to their local hospital for investigation, diagnosis and local treatment. Only about 150 of those patients each year will be referred to the new centre for specialised surgery, with the rest of their care taking place at their local hospital. All major hospitals in Essex currently provide cancer and urology services, including a range of non-specialised urological cancer surgery. None of this local care will change.
Dr Rory Harvey, Clinical Director for the East of England Cancer Strategic Clinical Network and Co-Chair for the national Cancer Programme of Care Board at NHS England, said: “This is an extremely important step forward for people living in Essex.
“The new single specialist centre will drive improvements in the diagnosis of these cancers, which will increase the number of patients able to be treated and improve the survival chances for patients after one and five years.”
The national guidance that has been used to set the criteria has been developed from clinical evidence which specifies the minimum number of complex urological cancer surgical cares that surgeons and multidisciplinary teams should undertake each year to maintain their specialism, clinical expertise and give patients the best chance of survival.
Single specialised urological cancer surgery centres have already been implemented across the rest of the East of England with specialised centres based at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, The Norfolk and Norwich Hospital in Norwich and the Lister Hospital in Stevenage as well as in London
When open, the new centre will provide complex urological cancer surgery to prostate, bladder and kidney cancer patients in the north, mid, south and east of Essex.
Patients in the west of Essex requiring specialised urological surgery are currently treated in London or Cambridge. Patients will continue to have this choice and will also be able to choose the new Essex centre if they wish.
The process is being overseen by a group that includes senior representation from each of the Clinical Commissioning Groups s and hospital trusts in Essex and patient representatives as well as independent clinical experts, and NHS England.