News

NHS leaders decide location of very specialist children’s cancer treatment centre

NHS leaders for London and the South East have today (Thursday 14 March) decided that Evelina London will provide the specialist cancer treatment centre for children living in south London and much of south east England.

Evelina London has been chosen as the future location for the Children’s Cancer Centre for London and the South East following a rigorous process, including a public consultation and an options-appraisal process involving clinical advisers, parents, charities, nurses and research staff.

A specialist children’s hospital which treats 120,000 children a year, Evelina London’s wide range of services, support for hospitals across its catchment area to look after poorly young patients, and strong performance in research are just some of the factors that showed it is the right place for the future Children’s Cancer Centre. Its experienced, expert teams will work with The Royal Marsden and St George’s which provide the current centre to minimise disruption for patients and ensure a smooth handover.

Children’s cancer centres (known as Principal Treatment Centres) provide diagnosis, treatments, and coordination of very specialist care for children aged 15 and under with cancer. There are 13 of them in England.

NHS England, London Medical Director Dr Chris Streather said:

“I would like to thank everyone who took part in our public consultation, and for the valuable feedback we received.

“This is a positive step forward for children’s cancer care – at the new location, children who need intensive care will be able to get it on site and the future centre will stand ready to give cutting-edge treatments that require intensive care on site, like other major centres worldwide.

“Service reconfiguration is rarely easy, but the decision taken today will ensure that children with cancer in south London and much of the south east will continue to receive the best possible care now and into the future.”

The current Children’s Cancer Centre (covering south London, Brighton and Hove, East Sussex, Kent and Medway and most of Surrey) is provided in partnership between The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust at its site in Sutton and St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust at St George’s Hospital in Tooting. It treats about 1,400 children, most aged one to 15, at any given time.

The current arrangement does not meet national requirements as The Royal Marsden does not have a children’s intensive care unit on site. National guidelines require co-location with intensive care to reduce transfer risks and stress for children and their families. Being co-located with intensive care also allows centres to offer more innovative treatments, where the chance of requiring intensive care support may be higher.

During consultation, parents and families raised a number of concerns about the change in location, including about travelling further into London, and what that will mean for them.

NHS England will now focus on detailed implementation planning that takes all of these concerns into account, making sure that Evelina London:
• Identifies families who may need help with transport as early as possible, providing clear information for families;
• Provides parking spaces and accommodation for parents to stay near their child;
• Has effective, easy-to-use support for reclaiming costs where appropriate.

Very specialist children’s cancer services will move from The Royal Marsden to Evelina London, once everything required for the future centre is in place. This will not be before October 2026 at the earliest, and there will be no sudden changes to children’s care in the meantime.

As part of this move, it was also agreed that conventional radiotherapy services will in future be provided at University College Hospital in central London, where children with cancer from south London and much of the south east already go for proton beam therapy and other superspecialist forms of radiotherapy.

The decision about the future location of the centre comes after a 12-week public consultation in late 2023. Patients, families, NHS staff and others were asked for their views on the two options for the future children’s cancer Principal Treatment Centre, and over 2,660 responses were received.

NHS England leaders chose Evelina Hospital to be the future children’s cancer centre on the basis of a decision-making business case which included information about the proposals, the pre-consultation evaluation of the options, feedback from the recent public consultation and other evidence. The decision making business case can be read here.