NHS England is backing clinician-led proposals which would see a reorganisation of specialist cancer and cardiac services across London and Essex.

NHS England has backed clinician-led proposals to reorganise specialist cancer and cardiac services across London and Essex.

The proposals (see box, below) cover hospitals across north and east London, and Essex and aim to address concerns that the relatively infrequent performance of procedures in some centres was affecting quality of care.

NHS England last week put out a call for responses to a business case for the proposals.

A final decision on the plans is expected to be made jointly by NHS England and local CCGs in July.

If approved the plan would be implemented in several stages over the next four years.

The first phase is the creation of a specialist cardiovascular centre at Barts, due to open in early 2015. 

Dr Andy Mitchell, regional medical director at NHS England, said: “These clinical proposals would see a major step forward in the way that specialist cancer and heart services are delivered in London and that is why we are supporting the options for change that are presented today.

“Evidence shows that dedicated specialist centres staffed by expert teams and equipped with the best technology and research capability save lives.”

Professor David Fish, managing director of UCLPartners, an academic health science partnership which has overseen the development of proposals with local clinicians, said: “The area has some of the best cancer and heart experts in the country, but services are often not joined up, leading to later diagnosis, poor patient experience and less favourable outcomes.

Specialist care lacks the critical mass of expertise to achieve the best for patients and we fail to make the most of new technologies and innovations that we know could help more patients.”

Chief executive of UCLH, Sir Robert Naylor, said: “Our proposals are a shining example of how the NHS can transform services to produce a model of care that will ultimately save lives and improve efficiency.

Reshaping cancer and cardiac services in London and Essex

Under the plans, Barts Health Trust will host a specialist centre for the treatment of heart disease while heart attack centres will be based at the Royal Free London Foundation Trust and St Bartholomew’s Hospital.

A central “hub” will be created at University College London Hospital Foundation Trust to provide specialist treatment for five types of cancer.

The Royal Free will lead on renal cancer treatment, while Barts and Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals Trust will offer other cancer treatments.

Specialist cardiac services, currently offered at The Heart Hospital and the London Chest Hospital, will be centralised at St Bartholomew’s.