A campaign group has been nominated for an award by the NHS for its tireless work in campaigning for the return of breast cancer services to Sunderland.
The Save Our Service (SOS) organisation was created in October 2015, set up with the aim of getting Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group to return certain services to the city.
Operations on those with the deadly condition were stopped at Sunderland Royal Hospital at the end of 2014 after a locum surgeon was axed because of a “misdemeanour”.
A lack of consultants was blamed for the decision to halt procedures at the site, with new patients referred to other centres such as the Queen Elizabeth in Gateshead or hospitals in Newcastle, Durham, Stockton, Bishop Auckland, Wansbeck, Hexham, and even Middlesbrough for treatment.
A new service to treat those from Sunderland with the illness, but not including surgery, was due to begin in April 2016 but did not open until the end of November.
That was down to building work at Grindon Lane Primary Care Centre, where the services are now offered.
New patients can see consultants, have a mammogram and ultrasound and if needed a biopsy at the centre.
But surgery is still carried out at other sites.
SOS has now been nominated for an NHS Leadership Award and although they did not win, they have spoken of their delight at being recognised by health bosses.
Breast cancer sufferer Shirley Williams, of Sunderland’s East End, has chaired the action group, which includes several current and former breast cancer patients from Sunderland.
“We have been involved in every step of this development to represent the patient’s needs.
“We are very happy with this service, which we have been re-assured would not have come about without the SOS Action Group involvement.
“Although we didn’t win, the group are delighted that the CCG nominated us and recognised the work we have carried out in just a little over a year when the action group was developed in 2015.”
Mrs Williams added: “The SOS Action Group will in 2016 be building our actions and campaign to contact and lobby those relevant health ministers.
“We still have a lot of work ahead of us.
“We are delighted with our achievements so far but we still need your support for the future to restore a full and complete breast cancer service to Sunderland.”