Page last updated at 12:59 GMT, Thursday, 23 April 2009 13:59 UK

Thousands opposed to cancer move

The plans have been criticised by some patients and doctors

A 32,000-name petition opposing plans to move some specialist cancer services out of Cornwall is to be handed to councillors later.

NHS managers want to centralise surgery for upper gastro-intestinal cancer in Plymouth, which they claim will improve survival rates.

But opponents say it would involve too much travelling for patients.

Cornwall Council's scrutiny committee is to make a decision about the move when it meets on 27 April.

The petition was gathered by the Keep Cancer Care in Cornwall campaign.

Widely criticised

They claim some patients would have to travel up to two or three hours to receive treatment under Cornwall's Primary Care Trust's proposals.

The plans have been widely criticised by patient groups and some medical staff.

In July, the former chairman of the Royal Cornwall Hospitals' NHS Trust, Peter Davies, resigned in protest at the proposals.

And there were claims John Watkinson, the recently sacked chief executive of the RCHT, had been made a "scapegoat" for challenging the plans, a claim the trust rejected.

But an independent review carried out for the PCT by two surgeons found that the death rate after surgery was significantly higher at the Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust than other areas where services were already centralised.

It said this was because hospitals where services were centralised saw more patients.

Discussions are also underway to centralise head, neck and some gynaecological cancer surgery in Truro or Plymouth.

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