• UCLH to take over ENHT’s cancer centre
  • Future of site remains unclear
  • ENHT promises there will “continue to be” local cancer services

A major London trust will take over a “dilapidated” cancer centre, with the trust running it ceding management following heavy criticism.

University College London Hospitals Foundation Trust has been chosen as the preferred provider to run East and North Hertfordshire Trust’s Mount Vernon Cancer Centre in north west London from April 2021. 

In autumn 2019, ENHT agreed to hand over the site to be run by a major specialist tertiary centre. This was after an independent review by NHS England specialist commissioners, published in July last year, found the centre was so “dilapidated” and understaffed it put patient safety at risk (see attachment).

The NHSE report added: “Maintaining safety of patients [at the centre] cannot be guaranteed in the near future.” 

UCLH’s takeover is subject to the outcome of a due diligence test.

Despite the potential takeover, the specialist cancer hospital’s future remains undecided. The NHSE review recommended the centre be rebuilt entirely beside an acute hospital, with some services retained locally.

There have been suggestions the site could be used as a local radiotherapy and chemotherapy hub but no official announcement has been made.

The management of the site is complicated by the fact that, while ENHT runs and manages the centre, the site is leased and owned by The Hillingdon Hospitals FT.

However, Nick Carver, chief executive of ENHT, said: “All partners are quite clear that there will continue to be cancer services for local people in the future, and that any proposed changes will be subject to a full and wide-reaching public consultation, of which local access will be a key part.

“We were fully involved in the evaluation process of prospective providers, and we are committed to working closely with the team from UCLH over the next 14 months to ensure that our patients continue to receive high-quality care, and that our staff are supported through this period of change.”

A UCLH spokeswoman said the change related to the management of the centre and patients would not need to travel into central London, “unless that is part of an existing cancer pathway or necessary to benefit from a specialist clinical trial or treatment not available at Mount Vernon Cancer Centre”.