Shorter journeys equals longer lives, MP tells Commons during radiotherapy debate
People in South Cumbria are choosing not to undergo cancer treatment because of long travel distances, the House of Commons heard during a debate yesterday.
The debate was secured by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Radiotherapy, which is chaired by local MP Tim Farron.
Tim said that the nearest radiotherapy centre being a 2-3-hour round trip away for most people in the South Lakes had resulted in a substantive number of patients opting out of treatment.
Tim also referenced that the British Institute of Radiology had calculated that in areas where access to radiotherapy is poor, 20% of people who should be getting radiotherapy are not getting it.
Speaking during the debate, Tim said: "For those living in Garsdale, Langdale or Coniston, those trips could be five or six hours, or far longer on public transport, every day for weeks. Those are ludicrous distances to travel to receive vital lifesaving treatment, and that is why we want a satellite of the Rosemere unit to be based at Westmorland General Hospital.
"I spoke to one lady over 80 years of age who was recommended a course of radiotherapy. She decided to forgo that treatment because of the distance she would have to travel. She did not have the option of a shorter journey, so she has instead taken the option of a shorter life. And she is not alone.
"People should have the best treatment for their cancer, and where at all possible they should have it close to home-because shorter journeys equals longer lives."
In response, the health minister Seema Kennedy said: "We need to do more to increase cancer survival rates.
"We have a very ambitious target. I am happy to work with all hon. Members to ensure that radiotherapy is a vital part of the battle against cancer."