A primary care trust's aim to centralise specialised cancer services has been derailed by the council's overview and scrutiny committee, which wants a full public consultation.
Cornwall and Isles of Scilly PCT planned to switch upper gastro-intestinal cancer services from the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro to Derriford Hospital in Plymouth, in keeping with the Department of Health's guidance on improving outcomes commissioning.
In a letter to committee chair Eric Parkin, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly PCT chief executive Ann James said: "The PCT is being asked to commission a non-licensed service from a low volume centre [the Royal Cornwall], which does not meet with Healthcare Commission requirements and cannot realise the improved outcomes we know are being achieved [elsewhere]."
NHS Confederation policy director Nigel Edwards said guidance that came out with the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 says that it is possible to consult on a single option and that this presented a challenge for organisations. He said: "There is a danger that too many consultations when the answer is unavoidable will devalue the process."
The Peninsula cancer plan recommended a single centre for services, giving clinicians enough cases to maintain skills, training and cover.
The NHS Information Centre's first national oesophago-gastric cancer audit, published in June, said such centralisation would ensure highest quality clinical care.
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HSJ's Outcome Measurement conference is in London on 24 September, www.hsj-outcomemeasurement.co.uk