STRUCTURE: Commissioners have agreed to help fund a £36m extension to a new cancer hospital being built in Liverpool, to make possible a reconfiguration of the city’s fragmented blood cancer services.

  • Liverpool CCG today approved a £12m contribution to proposed £36m extension of the new Clatterbridge Cancer Centre hospital
  • The proposals will take the development from eight to 11 floors
  • The space will allow haematological oncology services provided by two other trusts to be united in single service based at the new development

The proposed changes would add three floors to the original design of the new Clatterbridge Cancer Centre, which is being built on the grounds of the Royal Liverpool University Hospital.

Haematological oncology services currently provided by the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals Trust and Aintree University Hospital Foundation Trust would be transferred to the 11 floor cancer centre, and brought under the management of Clatterbridge Cancer Centre FT.

This would free up around 40 beds at the new Royal Liverpool, which is being rebuilt on the same site. Commissioners are expected to have to consult on transferring seven inpatient beds from Aintree University Hospital, but outpatient blood cancer services would remain at Aintree under a “hub and spoke” model.

new Clatterbridge Cancer Centre

Liverpool CCG will decide whether to help fund a £36m extension of the new Clatterbridge Cancer Centre

A paper that went to Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group’s governing body today says the proposals would achieve a number of clinical benefits, including an expected reduction in mortality as a result of providing haematological oncology in a large specialised centre.

Clatterbridge Centre medical director Peter Kirkbride said: “Clinicians across Liverpool have been united in agreeing that creating a single blood cancer service, together with solid tumour oncology, all within a hospital solely focused on cancer care is absolutely the right way of ensuring patients receive the best treatment for generations to come.”

The Clatterbridge Centre asked the CCG to provide £12m, covering a third of the capital costs of the additional development. The trust would fund the remainder of the £36m cost, with £12m from its reserves and £12m of borrowing.

Liverpool CCG approved its share of the investment at a meeting this afternoon.

The paper that went to the CCG’s governing body notes that reconfiguring blood cancer services in this way could have wider benefits to the health economy “by freeing up further capacity on the new Royal Liverpool University Hospital site to facilitate elements of the reconfiguration of services within Liverpool”, in line with the Healthy Liverpool service redesign programme.

Dr Fiona Lemmens, Clinical Director for the Healthy Liverpool hospitals programme, said: “Bringing care together for people with blood cancers aligns with the Healthy Liverpool vision to establish single-service city-wide hospital services, improving patient experience and outcomes and enabling seven-day services. 

“This is one of the first examples of how we are transforming our hospital system so it remains clinically and financially sustainable for the long term.”

Andrew Pettitt, consultant haematologist at Royal Liverpool, said there had been a “real explosion in our appreciation of haematological oncology over the last few years”. What had previously looked like one disease was in fact “probably a whole bunch of different diseases requiring different considerations in terms of treatment”.

He added: “Instead of having two hospitals operating fairly independently from one another, by bringing the two haematological oncology services together we then start to build critical mass. We can then start to assemble specialist teams who can focus more on their particular area of interest, and potentially deliver a higher quality of service.”

The proposals will be subject to a full business case next year and contingent on regulatory approval.

If approved, blood cancer services would move to the new Clatterbridge Centre when it opens in 2019.

Steve Warburton, interim chief executive of Aintree University Hospital FT, said: “The creation of a [haematological oncology] centre of excellence at the new Clatterbridge Cancer Centre in Liverpool is essential to our vision of providing world class services to our patients. Clinicians believe that this will mean a significant improvement in the quality of care for patients from across the region, and we fully support this.”

This story was updated at 2.38pm on 13 October 2015, following approval of Liverpool CCG’s £12m investment by the group’s governing body.