NHS England “not listening” to local parents on child cancer care

Published: Friday, June 16, 2023

  • Parent says NHS England ‘not listening’
  • Councillors told it is “unsafe” for very sick children to travel by public transport
  • Medical staff warn plans risk losing 25 years of paediatric cancer care expertise

Share this

Council leader Simon Hogg on a recent visit to St George's where he listened to doctors' concerns about the transfer plans

The mother of a young cancer sufferer has raised concerns about the potential transfer of children’s cancer service away from the borough.

Jenny Houghton was invited to address the Wandsworth Health Committee on NHS England’s plans to reconfigure paediatric cancer services in south London. Health chiefs are backing plans that would see the transfer of children’s cancer services from St George’s in Tooting to the Evelina in Westminster.

Jenny Houghton addressing the committee on Wednesday evening

Ms Houghton said it was “shocking” that parents’ voices were not being listened to.

She said NHS England were unable or unwilling to answer questions about their proposals and spoke of the deep concerns parents had about the prospect of having to travel to central London for treatment. She said it was wholly unsatisfactory that very sick children would have to travel on public transport and that health chiefs had not considered these cost impacts.

The committee was also addressed by the managing director of St George’s Kate Slemeck and senior clinician Dr Sijo Francis who both spoke about the impact of the proposals on local families.

Kate Forbes, Health Committee Chair, said after the meeting: “We are not yet satisfied with the amount of information we have been provided with by NHS England and are concerned at the many unanswered questions we have about these proposals.

“We are particularly concerned about the travel issues identified by parents and also about the level of engagement that current patients and their families have experienced. We need much more information about the impact these proposals would have on clinical outcomes.”

Councillor Forbes has been appointed to lead a cross party group of Councillors representing communities across South West London and Surrey who have been tasked with conducting detailed and rigorous scrutiny of the NHS England proposals.

Residents can view the discussions via a video recording of the committee meeting (listed as item four) that’s available on the council’s website.