SCORES of Cumbrian cancer patients are missing out on vital radiotherapy treatment due to its lack of availability.

That is the view of MP Tim Farron who put the urgent case for a satellite radiotherapy facility for South Cumbria to NHS commissioning chiefs this week.

At a meeting which formed part of the major parliamentary inquiry into the availability of radiotherapy services across the UK, which was chaired by Mr Farron, the Westmorland and Lonsdale MP stressed the urgent need for the service, particularly in rural areas such as South Lakeland.

“Many experts in the field believe that as many as 24,000 people across the UK may not be getting the radiotherapy they need, and my concern is that many of these may be in areas like ours that are predominantly rural," said Mr Farron after the meeting.

"Based on this 24,000-national figure, as many as 177 people in Cumbria could be missing out.

“Myself and colleagues put the senior NHS managers under a great deal of questioning pressure and it was clear to me that they do not have an accurate picture of how many people are missing out on this vital cancer cure and how severe the situation can be in rural areas."

During the meeting, Mr Farron and several fellow MPs pushed for answers on a whole range of aspects from the overall availability of this vital treatment, to the age of radiotherapy equipment, to staff training and the importance of satellite units to allow patients to access treatment closer to home.

And he said NHS England bosses conceded that there was a case for satellite units and invited business cases to be brought forward to be made for specific sites.

“Over two sessions we have gathered evidence from doctors, local managers and national NHS radiotherapy managers," said Mr Farron, who said he believed the inquiry has significantly strengthened the case for a South Lakes radiotherapy centre.

"We are in the process of putting together a final report based on all the evidence that we have received but it is already clear that much more investment is required in the overall service to meet new targets for early cancer diagnosis and that the needs of rural communities such as ours need to be addressed.

"This inquiry has made the case for a satellite radiotherapy centre in the South Lakes even stronger.”