• Surgeons from six trusts operating at QVH
  • Trust has postponed some of its less urgent surgery 
  • Most other urgent cancer surgery continuing in South East

A specialist trust has freed up 29 theatre sessions a week so cancer surgery from nearby providers can continue during the covid pandemic.

Surgeons from six other trusts across the South East are working with Queen Victoria Hospital Foundation Trust’s theatre teams to offer cancer patients breast, head and neck, and maxillofacial surgery.

The West Sussex trust, which specialises in burns care, reconstructive surgery and rehabilitation, offers some cancer services and provides breast reconstruction surgery rather than mastectomy. It has postponed some less urgent surgery to allow the cancer work to go ahead.

QVH has no accident and emergency department, making it easier to maintain a covid-free environment. 

The trusts involved are Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals Trust, East Sussex Healthcare Trust, Western Sussex Hospitals FT, Surrey and Sussex Healthcare, Royal Surrey FT, and Dartford and Gravesham Trust.

Cancer operations in many areas have been impacted by the pandemic, with some cancelled. However, the most urgent operations have continued across Surrey and Sussex, with a small number of urgent cases in Kent being postponed.

Louise Stead, Surrey and Sussex Cancer Alliance chair and Royal Surrey FT chief executive, said: “Having two dedicated cancer surgical hubs based at the Queen Victoria Foundation Trust and in Guildford — a partnership between the Royal Surrey Foundation Trust and the Guildford Nuffield hospital — means that all our NHS hospitals can continue to deliver as much cancer treatment as possible during these difficult times.

“This kind of partnership working, which involves colleagues and organisations from across Surrey and Sussex, has a huge impact.”

Regional cancer services for urology, hepatobiliary and gynaecological oncology are continuing at the Guildford Hub, alongside more common cancers. A clinical prioritisation panel allocates operating space based on urgency and best use of capacity.

A spokeswoman for the three Sussex clinical commissioning groups said some more routine cancer treatments were being delayed but urgent surgery was continuing.

Most urgent cases in Kent have continued with some being carried out in the Spencer Private Hospital, which is owned by East Kent Hospitals University FT. Only a “small number” of urgent treatments have had to be rescheduled in the county, according to Kent and Medway CCG’s governing body papers.

Elsewhere, particularly in London, some urgent (P2) cancer surgery was cancelled over the past month.