An agreement has been reached for the cancer scanner service for people across the Thames Valley to stay at the Churchill Hospital, it has been announced today (Wednesday, March 27).
NHS England, Oxford University Hospitals NHS trust and the private firm which has been given the contract for the PET-CT service have agreed that no change will be made to the service in Oxford.
The in-principle agreement says the trust will work with InHealth and there will be new sites for cancer screening at Milton Keynes Hospital and Great Western Hospital in Swindon.
Trust chairman Dame Fiona Caldicott said: “We believe that it is in the best interests of patients living with cancer in Oxford and the surrounding areas for the current PET-CT service at the Churchill Hospital to be retained and for it to continue to be run by OUH clinicians.
“This is an agreement in principle at this stage but it is a step in the right direction which we welcome.
“We look forward to working in partnership with NHS England and InHealth over the coming weeks and months to ensure that we can come to a detailed final agreement which is in the best interests of patients.”
The agreement has been revealed as papers have been submitted and published ahead of the Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (JHOSC) meeting on Thursday, April 4.
The organisations will build on the service that already exists in Oxford, retaining the Churchill Hospital site, in terms of both equipment, including its two scanners, and staffing, according to the agreement.
They will ‘focus on patient access and experience when undertaking the more detailed work to support the partnership’, involve the cancer staff and wider network in discussions about PET-CT scans in cancer pathways and ensure the Oxford service remains a centre of excellence.
The prospect of the Churchill losing its PET-CT service to InHealth sparked widespread outcry from doctors, MPs, the trust bosses and the general public.
Shortly before the agreement was announced, Keep Our NHS Public Oxfordshire was shown a letter from the Council of Governors at the NHS trust urging the JHOSC to refer the case to the Secretary of State in a bid for it to be reversed.
Lead governor Cecilia Gould wrote to committee chairman Cllr Arash Fatemian: “The proposed loss of the PET-CT scanner services on the Churchill Hospital site to a private provider elsewhere is causing tremendous anxiety to patients suffering from cancer.”
She added: “The trust and governors have received hundreds of contacts from patients about the change in the provision of this service to a private contractor.”
The positron emission tomography and computed tomography (PET-CT) service helps clinical teams investigate how far cancer has spread as well as establishing if it is responding to treatment.