Green light for UCLH cancer super centre 

25/07/2014 00:00 
Improved cancer and cardiac care for millions of people across north and east London and west Essex moved a step closer today as part of an innovative new system given the go-ahead today (Friday 25 July).

The plans will see UCLH (University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust) become a centre for the specialist treatment of five rare types of cancer, and cardiac services move to Barts Health NHS Trust.

Covering a population of three million people across the north and east London and west Essex area, the new system could save up to 1,200 lives a year by ensuring patients get world-class care at every stage of their treatment, from prevention and diagnosis to treatment and after-care. In addition, the reorganisation will deliver cost savings of more than £94m.

Cancer and cardiovascular disease cause nearly two-thirds of early deaths in people under 75 in London. Evidence shows that dedicated specialist centres staffed by expert teams and equipped with cutting-edge technology and leading research capability saves lives.

Under the plans agreed today by GP-led clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) for the area, UCLH will work within a system of hospitals including The Royal London, St Bartholomew’s, The Royal Free and Queen’s in Romford and become a centre for the specialist treatment of five rare types of cancer – brain, prostate and bladder, head and neck, oesophago-gastric and blood cancers. The vast majority of other cancer services, including radiotherapy and chemotherapy for these and other cancers, will still be available in local hospitals, as they are at present.

St Bartholomew’s Hospital will become the centre for specialist treatment of heart disease, including one of the largest cardiac surgery centres in England. Bringing together cardiac services on to one site will make it the world’s biggest unit for adults with congenital heart disease, and it will perform more heart MRI and CT scans than any other centre in the world.

Studies show that hospitals treating high volumes of patients have better outcomes for major cancer surgery and other high-risk procedures. Centralising specialist services will improve patient care and boost survival rates.

Sir Robert Naylor, UCLH chief executive, said: “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to revolutionise cancer and cardiac care in North London. National and international evidence shows a clear link between higher volumes of patients and better outcomes for patients. Creating a specialist centre at UCLH with frequently practising specialist teams and leading facilities gives the go-ahead for better outcomes for patients across north and east London and west Essex.”

Following today's important decision, our focus is now firmly on implementation plans for the moves which will start next year; Bart’s Heart Centre is planned to open in early 2015. Engagement on the plans has been carried out by NHS England since early-2014.

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