MP slams cancer treatments ‘lottery’

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EASINGTON MP Grahame Morris has slammed the “shocking” difference in cancer treatments available in the North-East compared to London.

In a Westminster debate Mr Morris complained that his constituents in east Durham suffer a life-threatening “postcode lottery”.

Mr Morris said: “The disparity in treatment levels for cancer patients in and around the capital compared with the rest of the country is nothing short of disgraceful.

“Data shows that the further someone moves away from London, the smaller their chance is of receiving radiotherapy.”

North West London tops the list with radiotherapy provision at 94 per cent whereas the North-East is at the bottom with just 27 per cent.

Meanwhile, patients in “prosperous” parts of London are three times more likely to receive treatment than those living in northern regions.

Mr Morris focused on new, ground-breaking treatments such as stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT) which, unlike conventional radiotherapy, has few side-effects and involves five days of treatment rather than five weeks, and the robotic CyberKnife system developed for tumour removal.

But there are only three hospitals with CyberKnife, all of which are in London.

Mr Morris reported that one of his constituents is due to start the treatment in two weeks in St Bartholomew’s Hospital, in London.

He added: “My constituent is very happy that he is set to receive the treatment in an NHS hospital.

“But is it not a scandal that he has to travel more than 260 miles to do so?”

In response, Health Minister Paul Burstow insisted that “significant progress” has been made in developing the latest radiotherapy procedures.

He added: “All new techniques, including advanced radiotherapy, need to be justified on the grounds of cost and clinical effectiveness.”