WEARSIDE breast cancer patients are being forced to travel as far as Hexham after Sunderland hospital bosses suspended surgery.
Sunderland Royal Hospital chiefs blamed a lack of consultants for the decision, with new patients referred to alternative centres in Gateshead, Newcastle, Durham, Stockton, Bishop Auckland, Wansbeck, Hexham, and Middlesbrough.
“This difficult decision was made in the interests of patient safety.”City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust spokesman
A City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust spokesman said the decision had been taken in full consultation with the Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group.
“This difficult decision was made in the interests of patient safety as we unfortunately cannot currently provide a consultant led service for our local population, despite our best efforts.
“At that time we worked closely with other local providers to ensure all patients currently under the care of City Hospitals were and are, managed appropriately.”
The trust was confident that services would be restored at Sunderland, though the suspension would have to remain in place in the short-term.
“This remains a temporary suspension of the trust’s breast service to new referrals only,” said the spokesman.
“We continue to work with local commissioners, providers and other partners to ensure local residents have access to a high quality local breast service.
“This is clearly not an ideal situation, but the quality and safety of the breast service that is provided to local residents is of paramount importance.
“This is a complex process and will take some time (months, rather than weeks), but we are confident that a local service will be re-established.
Everyojne affectged by the suspension had been kepty informed of the situation: “Patients who would normally have been referred to Sunderland are able to choose an alternative provider with advice from their GP.
“This information was communicated at the time to GPs in Sunderland and Durham, Monitor and the Care Quality Commission.
“All other specialities across the Trust are unaffected and this temporary suspension only affects the breast service.”