A LONG-RUNNING campaign to bring a radiotherapy unit to Westmorland General Hospital appears to have taken another step forward this week.
South Lakes MP Tim Farron, joined Jackie Daniel, chief executive of the trust that runs Morecambe Bay’s hospitals, in submitting a request to NHS England for the new unit.
“We’ve written a formal bid saying: ‘Come on, get on with it and give us radiotherapy’,” said Mr Farron.
“This is the first time the trust is doing it with us and the request is very clear. It’s a real step in the right direction.”
The fight to bring the service back to South Lakeland has been ongoing for several years, and in 2012 thousands of people took to the streets of Kendal to march for the unit to return.
Finally last year, a stumbling block over finance was overcome when health minister Dr Dan Poulter admitted there could be some ‘local variation’ in funding such a unit.
Initially, it was believed the funding formula could not be changed, making costs too high at such a small unit.
If the unit is given the go-ahead it will enable cancer patients to receive radiotherapy in Kendal rather than travelling to the Rosemere Unit in Preston.
Mr Farron said he hoped to start with one machine but hoped to expand to two at a later date.
“If there is one thing I hope to achieve it is this. This news is exactly the direction we want to be going in,” he told the Gazette.
This week the MP also called on the health minister to cut £10m from the trust’s £25m deficit, saying the full amount ‘cannot be paid back safely’.
“Savings of £15m can be made but saving £25m would mean them taking risks,” said Mr Farron..
“They know it’s got to be done but want to be able to do it in a way that doesn’t risk safety.”
Ms Daniel said: “We welcome the ongoing support of our local MPs.
“Our continued aim is to ensure health services both in, and out, of hospital are safe.”