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Trust denies cuts to cancer chemotherapy services

An NHS trust struggling to recruit nurses has refuted reports of possible delays to cancer chemotherapy services

An NHS trust struggling to recruit nurses has refuted reports of possible delays to cancer chemotherapy services

A leaked memo, circulated to staff at Churchill Hospital in Oxford, warned the number of chemotherapy cycles offered to the terminally ill would have to be cut because of a lack of staff trained to deal with medication.


Churchill Hospital in Oxford. Picture: Steve Daniels/Wiki Commons

According to the Times newspaper, Oxford University Hospitals Trust head of chemotherapy Andrew Weaver wrote to staff: ‘Currently we are down approximately 40% on the establishment of nurses on DTU (day treatment unit) and as a consequence we are having to delay chemotherapy patients' starting times to 4 weeks.’

The newspaper said the memo also suggested cutting back on treatment to alleviate symptoms for cancer patients, in some cases from six cycles to four.

'No decisions have been made'

But a trust spokesperson said: ‘We have not made any decisions to delay the start of chemotherapy treatment or to reduce the number of cycles of chemotherapy treatment which patients with cancer receive.’

It said the memo from Dr Weaver set out challenges to the trust’s service, but warned that it did not represent a change to formal policy for chemotherapy treatment.

Any potential changes would have to be thoroughly assessed, options outlined clearly in writing and a formal proposal presented to the trust’s executive directors for their approval before implementation, according to the trust.

Compliance with national guidelines

‘Any changes to treatment would also need to comply with national guidance and evidence from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence,' the trust's statement added.

The trust said it is actively recruiting nurses from overseas, and working closely with Oxford Brookes University to recruit newly qualified nurses into jobs.

Specific initiatives in the chemotherapy service include weekly shortlisting and interviewing of clinical staff, the trust claimed. 


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