SHARON HODGSON: Women should have local cancer service

Sunderland Royal Hospital.
Sunderland Royal Hospital.
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Cancer will sadly affect us all at one point in our life, may it be ourselves directly or a family member or friend.

That is why it is important that addressing cancer and improving services should always be at the top of any government’s agenda, as well as that of local NHS commissioners.

During my time as a Member of Parliament, I have campaigned for better access to treatment, screening and awareness of different cancers through my work as Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Ovarian Cancer and Co-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Breast Cancer.

That is why I was concerned when news reached me that Sunderland Royal Hospital had ceased all breast cancer treatment services in the City.

This has meant women from Sunderland battling breast cancer now must travel further afield to places like Gateshead, Newcastle or Durham to receive their on-going treatment.

The reason given for the closure of this vital service by the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and the Hospital was down to patient safety concerns after they were left with no consultants to lead the service and two breast cancer nurses left for new jobs at other hospitals.

I know that this is an issue that women in Sunderland who are battling breast cancer, or have won their fight, feel strongly about after the ‘Save Our Service’ group was created to put pressure on Sunderland’s CCG and Hospital to reinstate this important service.

As Sunderland is the largest urban authority in the North-East, I feel it is only right that women in Sunderland should have a local breast cancer service that they can rely upon.

I wrote to both the head of Sunderland’s Clinical Commissioning Group and chief executive of Sunderland Royal Hospital’s Board, and also met with the Minister for Cancer, to highlight my concerns for the future of this service.

It is now clear after pressure was put on the CCG and the Hospital, that the service will now be reinstated by April 2016,.

I will work closely with the Save Our Service Group, my fellow Sunderland MPs, the Clinical Commissioning Group and Sunderland Royal Hospital, to make sure this service is reinstated when promised, so women here in Sunderland receive the best service possible when it comes to treating breast cancer.