Page last updated at 11:25 GMT, Wednesday, 24 September 2008 12:25 UK

Cancer services move recommended

The review was carried out by two leading surgeons

Cancer specialists have recommended upper-gastrointestinal cancer surgery at a Cornish hospital should be centralised.

An independent clinical review was carried out by two leading surgeons for Cornwall's Primary Care Trust (PCT).

The review praised the dedication of staff at the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro (RCHT).

But it argued patients would get better treatment at a centralised surgical centre within the Peninsula Network.

The report said that while the current service is not "unsafe or dangerous" oesophago-gastric surgery at the RCHT should be discontinued "as soon as is practicable".

Its two key findings were that the death rate after surgery was significantly higher at the RCHT than other areas where services were already centralised and this was down to not seeing enough patients.

The report also recommends an equivalent review to that carried out at the RCHT should be performed at both the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust and Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust.

That is so a decision regarding a single centre can be made and the infrastructure put in place to allow centralisation to take place by January 2010.

'Particular circumstances'

But critics have opposed any changes and said it was "vital" services were kept in the county.

Campaigner Rosemary Woodward said: "We're not like south London or Newcastle.

"We have a particular set of circumstances down here and I don't think those have been taken into account."

Ann James, chief executive of the PCT, said: "The independent review clearly shows that a specialist centre ensures a higher volume of cases, which increases the chance of survival and cure and that is what all patients from Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly deserve."

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