NHS England (NHSE) is embarking on a consultation process to review children’s radiotherapy services.
The advent of proton beam therapy (PBT) treatment at The Christie centre in Manchester – and the imminent opening of a second centre at University College London Hospital – means there is capacity for more children, including those who are less well, to receive PBT in the UK without having to travel abroad.
As a result of these changes, NHSE is now set to review children’s radiotherapy provision overall, including the co-ordination and resourcing of conventional radiotherapy treatment and support services, such as play therapists.
NHSE is keen to engage the cancer community and patient groups in its early discussions, and is hosting a series of free engagement webinars in March.
The RCR has been engaged in discussions with NHSE, our clinical community and other stakeholders about the future provision of children’s radiotherapy since well before the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2018 we hosted a dedicated stakeholder day on the topic, hearing from NHS leaders, oncology teams and patient representatives about key considerations in the event of services changes.
Welcoming news of the review, RCR President Dr Jeanette Dickson said:
“The establishment of PBT services in the UK is an exciting advance in the treatment of a wide range of children’s cancers. However, new treatment pathways for PBT will also reduce the demand for conventional treatment.
“We welcome the new review process, which will be a vital component in helping NHSE ensure the safe and effective continuation of conventional ‘non-proton beam’ radiotherapy services.
“We look forward to working closely with NHSE and the cancer care community as the review programme develops, and I would urge all interested RCR members and fellows to engage with the process.”
The initial NHSE webinars for clinicians will take place on (click through to register):
Clinicians and patients can also keep updated on NHSE's progress with the review by registering as a stakeholder with the Radiotherapy Clinical Reference Group.