Petition Have a radiotherapy unit in the new hospital

It is hard dealing with cancer without the added physical and emotional distress of travelling to the UK for treatment. I had 7 and 8 year old boys. I flew home every weekend to see them. It was so tough. 17 years later I was there again. I got very ill and was scared. I needed my loved ones.

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Jersey desperately needs a radiotherapy unit. It can service the whole Channel Islands. Patients who travel for treatment are put up in an apartment. This can be very lonely if one is feeling unwell and unable to get out and about. Not everyone is able to have someone with them. You also have to cook your own meals. Again not everyone is well enough to do this.

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Ministers responded

This response was given on 9 December 2021

“I have requested a full business case to consider the possibility of providing Radiotherapy on-island because I wish to bring this to Jersey if it is safe for patients and we can afford to do so.”

I am aware of the negative impact of off-island travel for patients and their loved ones when they are already coping with an illness. Sometimes, there can also be waiting times for off-island treatment which can add extra stress at an already worrying time.

The possibility of offering radiotherapy on-island is something which I am keen to investigate and, for this reason, scoping work to be developed into a full business case is being carried out over the next few months.

The provision of radiotherapy is an area of medicine which requires great clinical expertise and islanders currently undergo treatment in the UK at a specialist centre to ensure their treatment is carried out at the highest level. We need to ensure that clinical safety and patient outcomes are always at the forefront of further considerations.

Currently, approximately 150 patients from Jersey a year receive radiotherapy in the UK and we know that some patients choose not to undergo that treatment because of the difficulties of travel and separation from their families. It is therefore likely that the potential demand for on-island therapy is higher than the current off-island activity.

In September 2021 a working group was established. The group discussed the possibility of radiotherapy treatment on-island and potential considerations to undertake. The group requested that information across a number of areas was brought together to inform the decision to move to a full business case. A pre-feasibility study was therefore conducted.

The pre-feasibility study highlighted the rationale for investigating the option of on-island provision and highlighted four key areas to consider in further detail in a full business case.

These are: 1) personal needs and outcomes; 2) clinical safety (including workforce availability, resilience of the unit and backups, safe application of a range of treatment on island, assurance on quality of the unit and clinical use); 3) finance (including detailed demand and capacity data, capital and on-going revenue costs) and 4) location and set-up of the unit (including co-location /separate location options, power supply and infrastructure).

The group made the decision to move to a full business case to give greater clarity and information on these four key areas and to provide options for a future decision on this topic.

I have asked that the business case be presented to me by the end of March 2022.

It is important to note that should a radiotherapy service be offered in the future in Jersey, some patients would still need to be referred for treatment in the UK, including patients being treated for head and neck cancers. This is because the treatment of those cancers is very specialist and therefore must be provided in a specialist centre.

We want patients to get their treatment on-island where possible, but we need to make sure that treatment is safe and resilient, it is high quality and the outcome for patients is as good as anywhere else.

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