Cancer centre fears

A PLAN to relocate cancer services at Hinchingbrooke Hospital has been met with anger from patients and the founder of the centre. Hospital chief executive Mark Millar is thinking over plans to move cancer services from the Woodlands Centre to the newly-b

A PLAN to relocate cancer services at Hinchingbrooke Hospital has been met with anger from patients and the founder of the centre.

Hospital chief executive Mark Millar is thinking over plans to move cancer services from the Woodlands Centre to the newly-built, £22milion treatment centre.

Should the move take place, Hinchingbrooke would look to turn the nine-year-old cancer centre into an education facility for its staff.

Campaigner Gloria Oakey, who had the initial idea for the Woodlands Centre, claims that relocating cancer facilities would be disastrous for patients.

"I appreciate that it is only an idea but I had an idea 14 years ago and now we have the Woodlands.

"The treatment centre is not suitable for cancer patients. The Woodlands was purpose-built and has a feel of somewhere special for cancer patients.

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"The staff do not want to move and neither do the patients."

The Woodlands Centre offers care, support and outpatient treatment for cancer patients and other people with a terminal illness.

Mrs Oakey, 68, was treated for breast cancer at Hinchingbrooke, which prompted her to press for a specialist centre.

She added: "My message to the chief executive is simple - hands off the Woodlands. It belongs to the people of Huntingdonshire."

Addressing a Hinchingbrooke board meeting on September 6, Mr Millar said: "We have got accommodation in the treatment centre that we could use for cancer patients. But we do recognise that it's a very special publicly-funded place for those who use it and work there, so I stress that no decision has been taken."

Paul Burbridge, from Godmanchester, who has been treated at the Woodlands Centre since January, said: "The Woodlands Centre was built by cancer patients, for cancer patients with local money, raised by local people.

"The only people who understand what it is like to have cancer are other cancer patients. The centre was built with love and care to provide love and care for people in the community and that's the way it should stay.

"This unit was specifically designed for cancer patients and it is not just something that you can pick up and transfer somewhere else."

Mr Burbridge, 54, who is married with three grown-up sons, lost his mother, Mary, to breast cancer in 1998, aged 68. Both his parents, Mary and Laurence Burbridge donated money for the Woodlands Centre.

Karen Charman, director of communications for Hinchingbrooke Hospital, said that no decision had been made on whether to move cancer services. She said she could not say when the decision would be made but, if cancer services were to move, it would be within the next two years.

"Cancer services have told us that they need more room and we are aware that they are clinically isolated from the rest of the hospital. We realise that, though the Woodlands is now owned by the trust, it is a donated asset and that local people have helped to pay for it."

Ms Charman said the move would be part of a package and would depend on whether other services moved to make room for it.

"If dental services were relocated into the community, that would provide a ground-floor facility with its own private access and private parking where we could relocate the treatment now taking place in the Woodlands Centre.

"Everything is part of a package and we also have to ensure that all our services are fit for purpose for the next 15-20 years. Any move must be because it is better for the service being provided."

INFORMATION: What do you think about the possibility of relocating the Woodlands centre? E-mail editor@hunstpost.co.uk with your views.

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