HEALTH Secretary Jeremy Hunt is be urged to 'live up to his words' and give the green light for a radiotherapy centre at Kendal.
Speaking at the Britain against Cancer Conference, Mr Hunt emphasised the need to reduce treatment variation across England, so all areas reach the excellent standards of the best.
“I want to make sure that our survival is among the best and NHS patients receive the best treatment available,” he said.
His comment was seized by Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron to urge action on a unit for Westmorland General Hospital.
The call for radiotherapy services at WGH - backed by The Westmorland Gazette's Shorter Journeys Longer Lives campaign - led to a march by 2,000 people through Kendal earlier this year to hand over a petition to the NHS commissioners.
Mr Farron called on Mr Hunt to 'live up to his promise' and use part of the recently announced £165 million made available to expand radiotherapy capacity, including the Radiotherapy Innovation Fund to bring a full cancer treatment centre to Westmorland General Hospital.
Last week, Mr Farron met with the UK’s national Director of Cancer Strategy, Professor Mike Richards to win his continuing support for the Kendal radiotherapy unit.
The National Radiotherapy Advisory Group has advised that patients should have to travel no more than 45 minutes for radiotherapy treatment. No part of the South Lakes is within 45 minutes of the Royal Preston Hospital - and some patients face journeys of over two hours each way. Currently patients requiring radiotherapy from anywhere in the South Lakes and Furness peninsula have to make the gruelling journey to the Rosemere unit in Preston - sometimes on a daily basis.
Mr Farron said: "Over 10,000 people have signed our petition, over 2,000 local people joined our march and the campaign is backed by the Westmorland Gazette.
"The Health Secretary’s statement shows that the government are beginning to listen to rural areas like ours – but we need action, not words. What they must do is give our bid the green light so that we can start the work on building our new radiotherapy centre at the Westmorland General Hospital.”