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Closed petition Fund the reopening of the three state-of-the-art Rutherford Cancer Centres

Three state-of-the-art cancer centres lie empty in Newport, Reading and Northumberland - a concerted Government effort and funding would get these centres back open and potentially help 20,000 cancer patients every year.

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With record cancer waits, there is no time to waste.

Following financial difficulties during the pandemic, the network closed in June 2022.

I'm calling on the Government to step in with the funding and leadership needed. Allowing thousands of UK cancer patients access to some of the most advanced diagnostic/treatment technology.

This is the worst cancer crisis of my lifetime. Reopening these centres could save countless lives.

This petition is closed All petitions run for 6 months

14,270 signatures

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Government responded

This response was given on 27 October 2023

Two of the former Rutherford sites are operating as NHS cancer centres. The Government has no current intention of reopening the remaining three sites as they do not meet present NHS specifications.

The Government is committed to speeding up the diagnosis of cancer and improving the treatment of it.

As part of this work, the NHS is already utilising two of those former Rutherford Cancer sites that meet NHS specifications.

The Taunton diagnostic centre which was originally a joint venture between Rutherford and the local NHS Trust is continuing as an NHS and independent sector joint venture and is fully operational with a new third party.

Clatterbridge NHS Trust has taken over the Rutherford site in Liverpool. This site is an important part of the cancer diagnostics architecture for the local population.

NHS England has reviewed the remaining three sites at Newport, Reading and Northumberland, and found that they did not meet NHS service specifications. We understand, however, that advanced discussions have taken place between a potential new operator and other key stakeholders with a view to these being re-opened outside of the NHS.

There is currently excess capacity at existing NHS proton beam therapy sites. Acquiring ex-Rutherford assets would not help with delays.

We have already opened and staffed a substantial number of new facilities to diagnose and treat patients with cancer across England, including 123 Community Diagnostic Centres (which have delivered more than five million additional tests, checks and scans), 94 surgical hubs and two specialist centres providing proton beam therapy at The Christie NHS Foundation Trust in Manchester and University College London Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

The ex-Rutherford proton beam therapy machines do not meet the higher specifications of those used to treat NHS patients. The emitting head of the ex-Rutherford systems cannot revolve a full 360 degrees, which was specified for the NHS systems so that treatment has as high a chance of complete success as possible.

Similarly, Rutherford’s specific proton beam services do not meet NHS minimum standards. These require that:

• There is a permanent senior clinical presence overseeing the service
• All personnel including consultants are fully trained and accredited.
• Proton beam therapy is integrated into a major cancer centre, on a hospital site - particularly important in the context of treating paediatric patients, who require a daily general anaesthetic, and complex patients (both paediatric and adult)
• Proton beam therapy should be closely aligned with a university or academic centre, essential for participation in research trials.

Department of Health and Social Care