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GPs protest at NHS cancer services being moved out of east London

07:00 26 February 2014

A public meeting is being staged tonight in protest at plans to move specialist cancer services out of east London.

The services would be switched under NHS proposals to University College London in Euston.

A meeting of 70 GPs and NHS cancer consultants earlier this month called for a halt to the moves.

The doctors are worried the switch will have knock-on effects to other medical services at four east London hospitals, the Royal London in Whitechapel, the Mile End, Newham University and Whipps Cross.

“The services could get worse as a result of these changes,” said Dr Jackie Turner from the Save NHS Campaign. “We are in favour of improving services, but moving specialist surgeons away from east London will effect the ability of the Royal London to operate as a specialist major accident centre.”

London’s main trauma centre at Whitechapel needs specialists on site, say doctors. Having to transfer trauma patients in emergencies to the West End could cost vital minutes and “put them in danger.”

The GPs are also worried that the move to Euston will affect cancer sufferers having to cope with long journeys. Services currently at Newham and Whipps Cross may have to be moved to Whitechapel to fill the gap, they fear, adding more long journeys for patients.

But onlu “a minimal number of specialist operations” would be transferred, according to the NHS. Barts trust estimates around 350 operations would transfer, or less than one per cent of the 28,000 procedures it carries out every year.

Survival rates are worse than any other part of the country, the trust points out. Two-thirds of early deaths in London result from cancer and heart disease.

Speakers at tonight’s meeting at 7pm at Whitechapel’s Jagonari Centre at 183-85 Whitechapel Road include NHS Cancer Services Commissioner Neil Kennet-Brown, Barts Health Trust medical director Dr Steve Ryan and Save Our NHS campaign co-chair Jan Blake.

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