Radiotherapy could be provided to cancer patients in Jersey if Guernsey decides to come on board, the Clinical Director of the new hospital project has said.
Professor Ashok Handa told a recent meeting of the ‘Our Hospital Community Liaison Group’ – islanders who have asked to join the consultation process - that he would like to see radiotherapy administered locally but it would need to be Channel Islands-wide for it to be both clinically and economically viable.
At the moment, most patients needing radiotherapy have to go to Southampton for treatment.
“Everyone agrees that in an ideal world, you’d have everything that you could possibly want for patients in Jersey on Jersey - including neurosurgery, cardiac surgery, interventional cardiology, vascular surgery, plastic surgery as well as radiotherapy,” he said.
Pictured: Most patients needing radiotherapy have to fly to Southampton for treatment.
“Nobody wants patients to go off island if they don’t need to. However, data across the world shows a very well-researched relationship between volume and outcome. For complex things, including radiotherapy, the amount of work that you do correlates directly with the outcome for those patients. And so, there is a clinical risk of low volume centres having poor outcomes.
“And separately, I understand that the business case for on-island radiotherapy doesn’t stack up for a population of 110,000. It does stack up for a population of 180,000 and, of course, if there was a Channel Islands' provision, that would make both economic sense and it might start making good clinical sense.
“I understand that discussions along those lines are under way, and I also meet up with our counterparts in Guernsey, who are building two hospital extensions in three phases, and this is one topic where we are attempting quite hard to get them to engage with us in a joint venture, so that we could make the clinical and economic case for radiotherapy on island.
“I’m engaged in that because I would like that to be a provision from 2026 onwards.
"I know Heath Director General Caroline Landon would like to see an extension of cancer services on island, including radiotherapy, and she is exploring that at her level with Guernsey to try and make that happen.”
Pictured: Guernsey's Princess Elizabeth Hospital.
Answering a recent question in the States Assembly, Health Minister Richard Renouf said that a working group looking at on-island treatment had been established, which included senior members of the oncology team and hospital managers, and he would report back with progress “by the end of the summer”.
Addressing cooperation with Guernsey, he said: “That has been considered and we do have links with Guernsey. It will continue to be considered.
“But we need to recognise that from a Guernsey point of view, both Southampton and Jersey are off-Island and Jersey might not be the automatic choice for patients in Guernsey or the Guernsey Health Service.
“If we are to offer it to Guernsey, we would need to ensure that the Jersey offer is better or more attractive, which might mean a cost subsidy. But all of that is in the mix and will be considered.”
He added that Health would not have to wait until the new hospital was built to determine if radiotherapy could be safely offered in Jersey.
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