NHS England (London and South East regions) has launched a public consultation on the proposed future location of very specialist cancer treatment services for children living in south London and much of south east England.
The consultation started on 26 September and will close at midnight on 18 December 2023.
The consultation will help NHS England decide where the proposed future Principal Treatment Centre for these children should be.
Children’s cancer centres (known as Principal Treatment Centres) provide diagnosis, treatments, and coordination of very specialist care for children aged 15 and under with cancer. There are 13 of them in England.
The current Children’s Cancer Centre (covering south London, Brighton and Hove, East Sussex, Kent and Medway and most of Surrey) is provided in partnership between The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust at its site in Sutton and St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust at St George’s Hospital in Tooting. It treats about 1,400 children, most aged one to 15, at any given time.
In 2021, a new national service specification set out that very specialist cancer treatment services for children – like those at The Royal Marsden – must be on the same site as a level 3 children’s intensive care unit. This is because children being treated for cancer are sometimes at risk of needing urgent intensive care. With future, cutting-edge treatments being developed for children with cancer, intensive care and other specialised children’s services will increasingly be required to be on the same site.
The Royal Marsden does not have a children’s intensive care unit on site, meaning that the current arrangement needs to change. At present, a small number of very sick children with cancer who need or might need intensive care are transferred safely from The Royal Marsden to St George’s Hospital every year. This is a journey of eight miles and is done safely by ambulance with an expert team on board. However, urgent transfers of very sick children to another hospital add risks to what is already a very difficult situation and are stressful for children and their families.
The public consultation proposes two options for the location of the future Principal Treatment Centre:
- Evelina London Children’s Hospital in Lambeth, south east London, run by Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust
- St George’s Hospital, in Tooting, south west London, run by St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
You can find out more about the consultation, the options being considered and give your feedback by visiting the consultation website.