The NHS is taking more time to listen and respond to feedback ahead of the upcoming public consultation on specialist cancer services for children living in most of the south east and all of south London.
NHS England – London, which is leading the project, now plans to launch consultation at the earliest possible point in autumn, after the summer period.
Stakeholders had previously been advised that the consultation was due to start in early July. The decision to move this is due to the volume of feedback being received from families, staff, Trusts and other stakeholders during pre-consultation. Some project stakeholders raised concerns about consulting over the summer period and this was an additional factor in the decision.
The short period of additional time will be used for further pre-engagement and work on the consultation documentation, to reflect the feedback received.
Commenting on the update, Dr Chris Streather, Medical Director for the NHS in London said:
“When a child has cancer, it is an unimaginably stressful time for them, their parents and their families. We want to manage any change as best we can for them and for the staff who care for them. Right now, this means taking additional time to fully respond to the feedback we are receiving during this pre-consultation period.
“There is more to do – this time will allow us to reflect what people are telling us in our consultation documents, and hear from an even wider variety of people across the south east, as well as south London, about how we approach this consultation.”
The consultation relates to planned changes to the Children’s Cancer Principal Treatment Centre (PTC) covering the catchment area of Brighton and Hove, East Sussex, Kent and Medway, south London, and most of Surrey.
Since April 2023, the NHS has been talking to patients, families, staff, partners and stakeholders, from across the catchment area, as part of pre-consultation. This early engagement has explored what matters most to people about the services provided to children, young people, their families and staff, and how different groups can best be involved in the consultation.
More than 60% of children having inpatient care at the Children’s Cancer Principal Treatment Centre come from outside London, mostly from Brighton and Hove, East Sussex, Kent and Medway and much of Surrey.
Since April, the team has spoken to over 100 children and young people, parents and carers, contacted more than 310 voluntary and community organisations, held seven feedback sessions with different groups, and completed surveys on wards with children, young people and families currently undergoing treatment. The feedback from this has been complex and varied, meaning that more time is needed to listen and include as much of it as possible in final consultation plans.
This additional time is not about changing the direction or overall approach – it’s about how the team explains things in the best possible way with the right level of detail. A good example of this is the way services are described which must be readily available at all times for children with cancer, if they are not provided on-site. Other requests are for more detail about the overall process and approach to evaluation.
NHS England – London is grateful for the large amount of feedback partners, parents and other stakeholders have provided on the documents and approach for the consultation and the team is going to consider all this feedback and reflect it as best it can.
Evelina London Children’s Hospital, which is part of Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, and St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust have both submitted proposals for the Principal Treatment Centre. More background on this programme is available here.