NHS England can confirm that two trusts - Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust and Southend University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust - have submitted bids to host a centre for specialised urological cancer surgery in the county.
Over the few weeks, any queries will be clarified before the bids are submitted to an evaluation panel made up of clinicians, patient representatives and commissioners, which will score the proposals on a range of criteria, including clinical service and quality.
Clinical Service and Quality will make up 35% of the score and Patient Access and Experience, 20%. A further 15% will be awarded for workforce, with 15% of the score based on the deliverability and implementation of the proposals, 10% for service development and 5% on finance.
This follows discussions with providers, CCGs and other stakeholders on how the health service in Essex can best meet national quality standards for specialised urological surgery for around 150 prostate, bladder and kidney cancer patients each year.
Over the past few months, a series of public events have been held to keep local people informed and once the proposals have been assessed, further patient and public engagement will take place before a 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.
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 cases that surgeons and multidisciplinary teams should undertake each year to maintain their clinical expertise and give patients the best chance of survival. The service is currently provided by teams in two hospitals in Essex, with neither performing enough specialised surgery to meet the standards.
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.
The process is being overseen by a group that includes senior representation from each of the Clinical Commissioning Groups and hospital trusts in Essex and patient representatives as well as independent clinical experts, and NHS England.