Parents voice concerns over threat to children’s cancer care at St George’s
Published: Tuesday, September 12, 2023
A Balham mum says accessing local hospital care was vital when her two-year-old daughter was diagnosed with kidney cancer in March 2020.
Emma van Klaveren Finlay said daughter Floriana received “fantastic” care throughout the pandemic at St George’s Hospital and the Royal Marsden and is now in remission.
But she is worried that if Floriana needs further treatment from child cancer specialists local care may not be there. NHS England is proposing the transfer of children’s cancer services away from St George’s to the Evelina Hospital in central London.
Emma says Floriana needed to attend St George’s at least weekly during her care, and travelling to central London would have increased their already high levels of stress.
“Caring for someone with cancer is a 24/7 job and the slightest thing means you have to leg it to the hospital – a raised temperature could mean sepsis.
“You can’t easily drive to central London and you can’t take an immuno-compromised child on the tube, so it would have really added to the stress and expense. I will be completely devastated if this change goes ahead.”
Her concerns have been echoed by another Wandsworth mum who has written to Councillor Hogg to express her concerns at the NHS England proposal.
The mother, who has asked to remain anonymous, wrote: “As a parent of a child who underwent 3.5 years of chemotherapy for leukaemia, please can I ask for your support to keep St George’s Hospital open for paediatric oncology (children’s cancer) services.
“St George’s was where we came for regular chemo, and for any episodes of febrile neutropenia, and when needing blood transfusions.
“It was such a blessing to have this so close, as travelling into town to Evelina would have been very, very difficult. You cannot take neutropenic children on public transport, and so difficult to park - not to mention the long drive. When you have a sick child, you do not want to face any of this.”
Last week, Wandsworth Council Leader Simon Hogg, along with Council Leaders from other affected areas across South England, wrote to the Health Secretary expressing concern at the potential transfer of services away from St George’s.
Councillor Hogg added: “We will continue to fight to save children’s cancer services in our local area. NHS England must ensure its consultation is thorough, fair, and prioritises the voices of families affected by children’s cancer.
“If you are a Wandsworth family who is affected by the proposal to move children’s cancer services away from St George’s, please get in touch with me at email@example.com."