Travel for cancer treatment '˜gruelling' for patients

The need for cancer treatment services in West Sussex to cut down journey times for patients has been raised in Parliament by one MP.

Wednesday, 24th January 2018, 5:04 pm
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 3:08 am
Chichester MP Gillian Keegan speaking during a Westminster Hall debate on patient travel times for cancer treatment (photo from

Patients receiving radiotherapy have to travel to either Brighton, Portsmouth, Guildford, or Redhill, as West Sussex is the only county in England not to have any treatment machines, called linacs, within its boundary.

A new radiotherapy unit at St Richard’s Hospital in Chichester has been raised, with a business case currently being considered.

The need for linacs in West Sussex to serve patients in the county was raised by Chichester MP Gillian Keegan during a Westminster Hall debate on patient travel times for cancer treatment earlier this month.

Afterwards she described how travelling to Brighton or Portsmouth for ‘vital’ radiotherapy treatment can be ‘gruelling for people already feeling really ill’

She added: “I took part to highlight the opportunity for new radiotherapy services to be developed at St Richard’s which would help many residents in West Sussex.

“A business case has been put together and the Cancer Alliance is currently considering the merits of our case.”

John Gooderham, who lives in Billingshurst, has been calling for a satellite radiotherapy unit in West Sussex.

He highlighted how an assessment of need for radiotherapy services by the University of Manchester’s Division of Cancer Sciences had found the population of coastal West Sussex required 3.2 linacs.

He also described how obstacles in the way of a new unit going ahead included proposals to drop the national guideline of a maximum 45 minutes travel time for radiotherapy treatment, and a demand and a capacity exercise by the Surrey and Sussex Cancer Alliance.

Mr Gooderham explained: “That 45 minute travel time has got to be reinstated, not least because many patients face the prospect of receiving radiotherapy five days a week for six weeks.

“Some of them decline before they have even started, and others drop out after a week or so, with consequences for their survival. There is a concerted effort from many quarters to reverse the proposal.”