By Steve Craddock
Patients and councillors have expressed their dismay after Southport and Ormskirk hospitals stopped taking on new breast cancer patients.
The change, which took effect on Monday (September 1), means that only existing breast cancer patients due investigation, treatment or follow-up will continue to receive treatment.
Janice Cooper, treasurer of a local breast cancer support group called Lift Up, said she felt that the knock-on effects of the loss had not been thought out.
She said: “We have 20 to 30 people every month and a breast care nurse from the hospital normally attends to offer reassurance and advice.
“The complimentary therapies for patients would presumably stop, which would have a knock-on effect on more staff and patients.
“Our group will probably be disbanded, nobody is actually sure what is going to happen.”
Rob Gillies, executive medical director for Southport and Ormskirk hospitals, said: “There is a national shortage of radiologists who specialise in this type of care.
“We have spent more than 12 months trying to recruit to a post caused by a staff member retiring. Arrangements to appoint temporary radiologists fell through in early August.
“As it is not possible to operate the service safely without two breast specialist radiologists in post, we have had no choice but to close the service to new patients.”
Veronica Bennett, Labour candidate for South Ribble, said: “It’s really worrying, hospitals are being put under serious pressure with increasing demands and cuts to vital services. To me it’s straightforward, we have to invest in local services, not cut them.”
Cllr Tony Dawson, Lib Dem health spokesperson in Sefton, said: “It is disappointing when a fairly basic service cannot be provided locally. I shall press within Sefton Council for the local NHS to seek to re-provide this service in Southport and Ormskirk as soon as staff can be recruited.”
Terry Jones, leader of Sefton Conservative group, said: “Once again a service has been lost. It’s just letting residents down.
“Why haven’t they looked abroad? We can’t just stop services because we can’t get hold of people.”
Any current patients concerned about the Breast Cancer treatment services at Southport and Ormskirk Hospitals can call the helpline from 9.30am to 4pm on weekdays on 01704 704788.
- DO you use the service at Ormskirk or Southport hospitals? What do you think?
Please email reporter Sophie McCoid at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her on 01704 398269 or message her via Facebook at OrmskirkAdvertiser Sophie McCoid.