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Tim takes radiotherapy case to Secretary of State - and get results

March 12, 2013 9:48 AM

Tim and the Lib Dems at WGHTim Farron met with the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, this evening to press the case for Kendal to get a radiotherapy unit. The Secretary of State was extremely positive and agreed to write to commissioners to make key clarifications on policy and funding that will enable the commissioners to take the bid forward.

More than ten thousand local people have signed Tim's petition to bring cancer services to the Westmorland General Hospital and two thousand joined him last year on a march through Kendal to present that petition. Chemotherapy has now successfully opened at Kendal, but the campaign for radiotherapy continues.

Government guidelines state that it is bad practice for any cancer patient to have to travel more than 45 minutes to receive radiotherapy, yet there is no one in South Lakeland who lives within 45 minutes of their nearest unit, the excellent Rosemere unit in Preston. Tim has asked Mr Hunt to reiterate that guidance to encourage commissioners to take action by providing radiotherapy at Kendal.

Secondly, Tim asked Mr Hunt to advise the commissioners that they were able to be flexible over the funding of a radiotherapy unit in Kendal, to take account of the fact that it costs more to provide radiotherapy care in smaller units in rural areas.

The Secretary of State gave positive responses to these two crucial requests, and agreed to write to the commissioners to clarify these issues.

Tim said: "We won't be celebrating until radiotherapy fully opens at Westmorland General Hospital, but tonight we have made a very important step forward in our long running campaign. I am extremely grateful to our local NHS for being so helpful as I prepared for this vital meeting, and grateful to the Secretary of State for being so positive.

"Hundreds of patients in our area are desperate that this vital life-saving treatment should be available in South Lakeland - leading to shorter journeys and longer lives. I am determined that we meet their needs and do so quickly, our campaign will continue until the unit is built and opened."