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.

See this week's leader for more analysis.

HSJ's Outcome Measurement conference is in London on 24 September, www.hsj-outcomemeasurement.co.uk