Plans for Radiotherapy unit at Doncaster hospital put on hold

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Plans for a radiotherapy unit that would mean patients receiving cancer treatment in Doncaster rather than Sheffield have been put on hold.

Doncaster and Bassetlaw Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has confirmed it has been forced to pause the plans indefinitely due to financial constraints, after the discovery of a black hole in its finances.

It could mean patients will still have to make the journey to Sheffield for important treatment rather than have it carried out closer to home at Doncaster Royal Infirmary.

The hospital was hoping to house a vital cancer scanner, with fundraising for the equipment well under way.

Officials at the Doncaster Cancer Detection Trust, which is raising the money for the machine, stressed that fundraising for it continues.

The Cancer Detection Trust campaign has already raised around £166,000.

The charity says the satellite radiotherapy centre plan has been mothballed because of the ‘financial position of the hospitals trust and the NHS as a whole’ and follows the discovery of a £12m financial black hole in October 2015.

Sewa Singh, medical director at the hospitals trust, said the trust had declared a previously unknown and unexpected financial deficit in October 2015.

He added that after this and in anticipation of new national guidance on radiotherapy, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals and the Doncaster hospitals trust agreed to pause work on the radiotherapy development.

Although the new national guidance has now been published, the financial position of Doncaster hospitals trust and the NHS as a whole had meant that the plan is on hold.

Following cost-cutting measures a spokesman for the hospitals trust says it is now on course to end the 2016/17 financial year with a deficit of £20m - £11m lower than predicted.

Chairman of the Doncaster Cancer Detection Trust The Ven Robert A Fitzharris said the charity was still dedicated to raising funds to buy the scanner for the DRI, but admitted it was not clear where it would be placed in the hospital.

He said: “With the help of the people of the borough, Doncaster Cancer Detection Trust remains fully committed to buying a state-of-the-art scanner for Doncaster Royal Infirmary.

“The new scanner will enable earlier diagnosis and therefore earlier, appropriate treatment of many different cancers.”

“We wanted to make it so cancer patients in Doncaster wouldn’t have to make that 50-mile round trip to Sheffield in order to have treatment. We want high-quality treatment to come to the people of Doncaster, rather than the other way round but it has not worked out like that.”