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Health Minister backs South Lakes radiotherapy unit campaign
THE Health Secretary has turned his personal attention to plans for a radiotherapy unit in South Lakeland – but fell short of offering financial support.
Andrew Lansley said this week that he ‘completely’ understood the need for a centre at Kendal’s Westmorland General Hospital and wanted to be kept ‘continuously informed over progress’.
However, while the politician spoke of ‘affordability’ being a key issue, he did not promise any Government aid, which could help cover the £10 million cost.
Prime Minister David Cameron organised a meeting between Mr Lansley and Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron after hearing of the 2,000 campaigners who marched through Kendal last month to demand an end to journeys from South Lakeland to Preston for radiotherapy treatment.
Mr Lansley heard of the 12,000 signature petitions which formed part of campaigns run by The Westmorland Gazette – Shorter Journeys, Longer Lives – and Mr Farron.
“Tim explained the case for a radiotherapy service at Westmorland General Hospital,” said Mr Lansley. “I completely understand the need for this service and understand the hospital trust and the commissioners are keen to see this happen although their remain issues of affordability.”
“I will give personal attention to this and ask the specialist commissioning group to keep me continuously informed over progress and keep in touch with Tim as we move forward.”
Mr Farron said: “Meeting the Secretary of State is another step forward in our campaign.
“He emphasised he was supportive of the project and paid tribute to our campaign. Working together as a community we have forced this onto the agenda.
“The discussion is now about the details over the costings and the business case and not about whether we need radiotherapy services at Westmorland General.”
Meanwhile, Mike Richard, national director for Cancer Care, has written to University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Trust and said he ‘strongly’ supported plans for a radiotherapy unit in Kendal.
He told the trust, which has helped put together a business case for the unit: “I believe this would bring very substantial benefits for those living to the north of Lancashire and especially to the population of Barrow-in-Furness and the southern part of the Lake District.”