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Farron: Whitehall Indifference Must Not Delay Cancer Unit

January 11, 2016 2:30 PM

Tim marching with over 2000 people to try and bring radiotherapy services to Westmorland GeneralTory ministers' lack of interest is letting local people down over plans for a radiotherapy unit in Kendal, according to South Lakeland MP Tim Farron.

Tim wrote to the government to ask for a national radiotherapy capacity review to be published, so that plans for the radiotherapy unit in Kendal could proceed. However, in two letters to Tim, sent just over a week apart, a Tory NHS Minister first denied that this review had taken place and then admitted that it had.

Tim commented: "This has become farcical. For a minister to send two letters to me, directly contradicting each other, within just a week, shows how little they care about local residents suffering from cancer."

The second letter then argued that local health bosses are not developing a business case for satellite radiotherapy provision at Westmorland General, despite the fact that this has been happening for some time.

Tim added: "Then to add insult to injury they try to lay the blame at the door of local health bosses by trying to claim that plans are not being drawn up for the unit."

Tim has written to the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, to ask him to confirm that Kendal's radiotherapy unit will receive the funding it has been promised. In parliament last week Hunt promised that he would look into this. In January 2015, the Treasury promised to provide the £15million needed to bring the unit to Kendal. The proposed new unit would be based at Westmorland General Hospital in Kendal, and would run as a satellite unit of the Rosemere Centre in Preston.

Tim concluded that "What is clear from all of this is that NHS ministers in London are simply not interested in Kendal's radiotherapy unit. However, the reality up here is that cancer patients have to travel intolerable distances, at great cost both financially and time-wise, simply in order to access basic radiotherapy services. Ministers need to step up to the plate and approve these plans now."