PERFORMANCE: NHS organisations in Sussex have announced plans to more than double radiotherapy provision by 2014, with the help of the private sector.

Radiotherapy for the majority of patients in Sussex is currently provided by four linear accelerators (linacs) at the Sussex Cancer Centre, part of the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton. Other patients travel to facilities outside of the county. 

According to the NHS Sussex primary care trust cluster, a plan has been agreed to provide an additional two linacs at Worthing Hospital and three at Eastbourne District General Hospital.

This will “dramatically” reduce travel times for over 2,500 patients a year who live in the east and west of the county, the cluster said in a press statement.

In addition, from 2013, a programme will begin to replace the four NHS linacs in Brighton with more modern and efficient machines. 

During the replacement period some patients will be treated using linacs owned by private provider Sussex Health Care at its facility near Crawley. 

It has also been agreed that two further types of radiotherapy – brachytherapy and tomotherapy – will also be provided at the Sussex Cancer Centre in Brighton. 

NHS Sussex chief executive Amanda Fadero said: “By working with an external provider we will more than double radiotherapy in Sussex by 2014 – something the NHS has wanted to achieve for some time.”

The Sussex Cancer Network Partnership Group added: “We are delighted that so many Sussex patients will be able to have their radiotherapy closer to home. 

“For some patients travelling to current services has been a barrier due to long travelling times and costs and we very much welcome this news on their behalf.”