NHS England (London and South East regions) has launched a public consultation on the proposed future location of very specialist cancer treatment services for children living in south London and much of south east England. The consultation is running for 12 weeks from 26 September to midnight on 18 December 2023 and will help NHS England decide where the proposed future Principal Treatment Centre for these children should be.
NHS England really want to know your thoughts on the good points and drawbacks of each option, as well as your ideas for making these proposed changes go smoothly. Your views, questions and any additional information you think NHS England should know, are also welcome.
When a child is ill with cancer it is hugely stressful for them, their parents, and families. Children must have access to the very best care, provided in the best way possible.
Children’s cancer centres (known as Principal Treatment Centres) are responsible for making sure every child with cancer gets the expert care they need. There is one Principal Treatment Centre for children with cancer who live in Brighton and Hove, East Sussex, Kent, Medway, south London and most of Surrey. It is the subject of this consultation.
The service the current Principal Treatment Centre provides is safe and high quality. The teams on the two sites work very hard to make sure children with cancer get safe, joined-up care. But national clinical requirements set by NHS England say that very specialist cancer treatment services for children – like those at The Royal Marsden’s site in Sutton – are now required to be on the same site as a children’s intensive care unit that can give life support to the most unwell children. As a specialist cancer hospital, The Royal Marsden does not have a children’s intensive care unit on site.
As a result, the specialist cancer services for children currently provided at The Royal Marsden need to move to be on the same site as a children’s intensive care unit. This would provide a number of benefits, including ending the need to transfer very sick children with cancer from the specialist centre to another hospital if they need or might need intensive care. This would eliminate the added risks and stress these transfers bring. If children did need an intensive care bed, the intensive care unit would be very close by on the same site. In addition, the specialists in intensive care would be able to see children and support them on the specialist cancer ward. This could help some children avoid intensive care. More information and our full proposals are online.
There will be no sudden changes to how children and young people receive care. The future children’s cancer centre would not be ready until at least 2026. The move would be carefully planned with the full involvement of current teams and clear information for parents and families.
Under the changes proposed, specialist cancer services for children will no longer be provided by The Royal Marden. The services will be re-located at another centre. Our vision for the future is that the re-located children’s cancer centre builds on all the strengths of the existing service but is also on the same site as a children’s intensive care unit and other specialist services for children. This will enable it to give best quality care and world-class outcomes for decades to come.
There are two possible options for the future Principal Treatment Centre. Both already have a children’s intensive care unit and other specialist children’s services, which are rated outstanding. Under both options, all conventional radiotherapy services for the future children’s cancer centre (instead of some, as now) would be provided by University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
The two options being considered are:
There will be no sudden changes to how children and young people receive care. The future Principal Treatment Centre would not be ready until at least 2026. The move would be carefully planned with the full involvement of current teams and clear information for parents and families.
We would like to encourage responses from south east London residents.