My son Max was diagnosed with two different cancers – Acute Myeloid Leukaemia and Rhabdomyosarcoma and was treated at the Royal Marsden Children’s Unit over a period of 4 years. He received a bone marrow transplant but ultimately died from his illness. The treatment we received from the Consultants, doctors and nurses was extraordinary. They treated the whole family, not just the child and were the most dedicated and caring people I have ever met.
I have read the NCAT review of 2011 and the London Paediatric Oncology Review of 2015 and understand the arguments for the movement of the Unit, but they do not appear to consider the following issues –
- Sutton is easy to reach; central London is not and taking a neutropenic child into central London increases the risk of complications and creates even more stress for parents who are only just coping.
- Relocation of any smooth-running operation leads to inevitable issues (Staff losses, new operating procedures etc), which in itself may lead to the death of children.
- The cost of relocation is not being considered in terms of the wider needs of the NHS. The money spent on relocating the Unit could be spent on major NHS issues such as greater mental health provision, screening, and increases in requirements for NHS staff and beds.
- The inevitable loss of the benefits of having clinical treatment and research being performed at Sutton, and the increasing benefits of the creation of the London Cancer Hub on the Sutton site as time progresses. (I do not think the London Cancer Hub had been envisaged at the time of these reports, because it is not mentioned in either).
- The Royal Marsden Children’s unit is not ‘broken’, it needs investment and changes to procedures to resolve the issues at hand to make co-location work more efficiently.