Sandwell cancer patients face trips to Birmingham or Wolverhampton
Cancer patients in Sandwell will have to travel to Birmingham or Wolverhampton for appointments as the borough’s main hospital has lost its oncology services.
Health officials were not able to reach an agreement to keep oncologists at Sandwell Hospital, where they had been allowed to work by the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.
It means cancer outpatient care and chemotherapy will no longer be delivered in the borough – forcing patients to travel up to 11 miles out of their way in a move that has been criticised by families.
Patients will be sent to either Queen Elizabeth Hospital or New Cross in Wolverhampton for treatment.
Toby Lewis, chief executive of the Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, said: “We would like to emphasise that clinical care will not be interrupted. The location change for oncology outpatient care and chemotherapy will take place in a phased approach over the next few months up to February 2018.”
Patricia Jones, aged 75, who is battling lung cancer, is among patients who will be affected by the change. She and husband Trevor will have to travel to Birmingham from Wednesbury for appointments.
Mr Jones, 77, said: “Cancer patients sometimes don’t feel well enough to go to QE. You can’t even park there.
“People need to see oncologists and for some people, especially if they haven’t got cars, it will be a difficult place to get to.
“It doesn’t make sense to me, considering the amount of people in Sandwell who need oncology.” Brian Childs, from Upper G.I. Blues, a charity which supports cancer patients in the West Midlands, said the decision was a ‘disaster’ for families affected.
He said: “To have to travel to the QE brings extra costs and pressure on families.”
An NHS Improvement spokesman said: “Due to the unsustainability of staffing at the Sandwell and City sites, patients will shortly be referred to the region’s cancer centre at UHB for their outpatient appointments and chemotherapy, or to the Royal Wolverhampton Trust if that is more convenient for them. At the same time, a cancer review will take place to look at the long term options for oncology services here.”