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Patients benefiting from advanced brain tumour treatment set to double

The number of patients receiving an innovative treatment for brain tumours will more than double over the next three years as a concrete step towards the implementation of NHS England’s Cancer Strategy.

NHS England has now announced the award of new contracts for stereotactic radiosurgery and radiotherapy (SRS/SRT) – specialist forms of radiotherapy that can be used to treat patients with intracranial conditions, such as benign and malignant brain tumours.

More than 6,200 patients a year are expected to benefit from these services by 2018/9, compared to just over 2,400 in 2014/15. The new SRS/SRT services are spread across all regions of England, improving access to services and making it possible to treat more people closer to home.

Over the course of the seven year contracts, the increased number of SRS/SRT treatments will be delivered for significantly less than they would cost at current per-patient prices thanks to efficiencies of around 25%. Further, by increasing access to these advanced forms of radiotherapy, fewer people will have to undergo more invasive and costly treatments such as surgery.

Dr Jonathan Fielden, NHS England’s Director of Specialised Services, said: “As a result of this procurement thousands more patients will benefit from this very precise and effective form of treatment. This is another example of how NHS England is working hard to achieve better services and outcomes for patients at the same time as better value for the health service.”

Angela Collett of the patient charity the Brain and Spine Foundation, said: “The Brain and Spine Foundation welcome this important step from NHS England to increase access to specialist stereotactic radiosurgery and stereotactic radiotherapy, which will make a major difference for thousands of patients diagnosed with life changing brain illnesses.”

SRS/SRT are specialised services delivered by a highly skilled team of neurosurgeons and oncologists, working together with specialist radiographers, physicists and other professionals as part of multi-disciplinary teams. This means they need to be provided in a limited number of hospitals across the country with the expert teams and aligned to existing networks.

Services are delivered using a number of different technologies/platforms, including Gamma Knife, CyberKnife and specially configured linear accelerators. The technology delivers precisely directed beams of radiation to the target site, meaning that there is less of risk of damage to surrounding healthy tissue and thus fewer side effects for patients.

The services are arranged to ensure that patients in all areas of the country have access to SRS/SRT for more common illnesses (largely for brain tumours and metastases), while three national centres of excellence will provide specialist care and support for children and patients with rare and complex conditions (such as vascular and other non-tumour conditions).
Providers will start delivering SRS/SRT services during 2016 and work swiftly towards a significantly expanded service.

As part of the Cancer Strategy, further improvements to radiotherapy access and quality will be the subject of a separate Radiotherapy Services Review. The Review will produce a plan for a modern national radiotherapy network by September, with a revised radiotherapy service specification by the end of the year.

The new services will be provided by the following providers:

Tier 1 & 2

  • Merseyside & Cheshire | The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre NHS Foundation Trust
  • Greater Manchester, Lancashire & South Cumbria | Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust.
  • North of England (Northumberland, Tyne & Wear & North Cumbria) | The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
  • East Riding of Yorkshire & South Yorkshire | Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • West Yorkshire | Nova Healthcare
  • East Midlands (Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire & Northamptonshire) | Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust
  • Pan Birmingham, Arden & Greater Midlands (West Midlands, Warwickshire, Herefordshire, Shropshire & Staffordshire) | University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust
  • Anglia (Cambridgeshire, Norfolk & Suffolk) | Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • Essex | Barts Health NHS Trust
  • Thames Valley | Provider to be appointed shortly
  • Peninsula, Avon, Somerset & Wiltshire & Dorset | University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust
  • Central South Coast | University Hospitals Southampton NHS Foundation Trust
  • North London & East & North Hertfordshire | Imperial College NHS Healthcare Trust
  • North & North West London | University College Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • East London | Barts Health NHS Trust
  • South Central London | Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust
  • South London, Kent & East Sussex | The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust

Tier 3 & 4 National Centres

  • North & Midlands | Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • London, South & South West | University College Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Paediatric National Centres

  • North & Midlands | Nova Healthcare
  • London, South & South West | University College Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

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11 comments

  1. Jo Pretty says:

    Come and live in France if the procedure is life threating it’s free also quick no waiting times here.

  2. Nigel Knight says:

    If only this was available and one could access it, but there are too many patients, too few places where one could be treated and too few people who could answer the phone to talk to anyone. I am defeated by the NHS whose only interest is the salaries of senior staff.
    How depressing to die from a brain tumour through the NHS’s sheer boredom and inertia. I’d probably do better to go to a local garage

    • Nigel, I understand why you feel like you do, I am still waiting for somebody to answer my questions on this page from 10 days ago and on chasing it up for some help, I have been given my fifth email address to try to get an answer – patient centred, I think not !!

      • NHS England says:

        Dear Rose,
        You should have received an email from our Digital team saying that the comments posted to this page (including your previous comments) have been passed on to the relevant team for them to review and to provide responses. As soon as responses from the team are received, they will be posted to this page.
        Kind regards,
        NHS England

  3. Miss Glenys Goodwill says:

    Why is the provision so London centric? Why only one NHS provision in London? What happens to the rest of the children in the family when repeat treatment needed? Nova isn’t a place.

  4. Alison Dummer says:

    Why is the Paediatric Centre for North and Midlands not the same as the Tier 3 & 4 Centre?

  5. Warren.grant says:

    Gloucestershire?

  6. Can you confirm please whether this treatment will be available for cancer patients with (secondary) metastatic brain tumours?

  7. Rose Woodward says:

    Could you please confirm whether cancer patients with metastatic brain tumours are now eligible for SRS treatment and covered by this policy update.

  8. Aprella Fitch says:

    Is there to be any provision for Worcestershire or can we expect to be treated at UHB?

    • NHS England says:

      Dear Aprella,
      Worcestershire provision will be provided by – Pan Birmingham, Arden & Greater Midlands (West Midlands, Warwickshire, Herefordshire, Shropshire & Staffordshire) | University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust
      Kind regards,
      NHS England