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Farron wins progress on new specialist cancer treatment

June 25, 2009 12:00 AM

Tim Farron has won a commitment from the Health Minister that the government is making progress towards providing the state of the art life-saving cancer treatment Proton Therapy in the UK. The minister, Anne Keen, said in response to a Parliamentary question from Mr Farron that an announcement will be made in the "very near future".

An increasing number of British cancer patients who have been diagnosed with particularly sensitive cancers such as those close to the spinal chord, brain or heart, are having to travel abroad to receive the life saving proton therapy treatment because it is not available in the UK. Most of these people also have to fund the treatment themselves.

Commenting Mr Farron said:

"I think it's appalling that cancer patients suffering from particularly sensitive forms of cancer, such as those affecting the spine or the brain, have to travel as far away as the United States to receive treatment that could potentially save their lives.

"The promise of a proton therapy centre is really encouraging, but there is a real pressing need for the government to look at ways in which the NHS can help fund treatment for patients immediately."

Mr Farron has campaigned for a new proton therapy unit to be available in the UK following the experience of his constituent, Mrs Clare Marsh who has a chordoma on her spine. Mrs Marsh has been told that proton therapy would provide her with the most effective treatment but it is currently only available overseas.

Tim said "For people in Clare Marsh's position, there is not the time to wait for a proton therapy unit to be built in the UK, they need treatment right away and that can only happen if the NHS will pay for that treatment overseas.

"Until a proton therapy centre is up and running, the government should be doing all they can to ensure that no one is forced to pay for lifesaving treatment overseas."

Today, there have been further developments in Mrs Marsh's case as the Secretary of State for Health, Andy Burnham MP, has agreed to look at Mrs Marsh's case personally after a meeting with Mr Farron. Mr Farron has also won Mr Burnham's help by stepping in to put Mrs Marsh in touch with the UK's top Radiotherapy expert at Addenbrookes hospital in Cambridge."