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November 11, 2008 9:22 AM

Progress towards a new cancer centre in south Cumbria took another step forward yesterday after local MP Tim Farron met with cancer tsar Professor Mike Richards in a bid to bring the £15million unit to Kendal.

Coming only two weeks after Mr Farron's parliamentary debate with Health Minister Ann Keen MP, Tim's meeting with National Cancer Director is the first of many with leading cancer experts and health professionals as he begins to take forward plans to build a new cancer treatment unit at Kendal's Westmorland General Hospital.

During the meeting, Professor Richards told Tim that there was a strong case for a cancer treatment unit in Kendal, and it was clear that the evidence exists of demand for a unit, capacity on the Westmorland General site, and current under-provision for local people. He said that a cancer unit at Kendal would also be very much in line with the government's cancer strategy.

Professor Richards also said that a public campaign could make all the difference. Mr Farron is already collecting signatures on a petition for a cancer treatment unit ahead of the official launch of the petition in the next couple of weeks.

Commenting after the meeting Mr Farron said:

"Professor Richards was extremely receptive to our case and getting someone of his expertise and influence on board is a real coup for our campaign, along with the positive reception the campaign got from Ann Keen MP the other week.

"It's important that we speak to experts so that we can put together a feasibility study to identify the best way to get the cancer treatment centre built in Kendal.

"Following this meeting, we've now got a much better idea of the specifics of the scheme and what it will take to put a detailed and well considered proposal into action.

"Professor Richards stated that a cancer unit at Kendal would be in line with the Government's Cancer Reform Strategy and also in line with Health Minister Lord Darsi's plan to localise health provision where possible to give convenience.

"It's clear from my meeting that the support of local people will once again be key in the future of the Westmorland General Hospital. We need to show the decision makers that support clearly exists. I ask everyone who supports the campaign to sign the petition calling for a cancer treatment centre in Kendal."

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