To receive additional items that the Chair is of the opinion should be considered as a matter of urgency, in accordance with Section 100B (4) (b) of the Local Government Act 1972.
An item of urgent business was raised by NHS England regarding the change of contract in the Positron Emission Tomography – Computed Tomography (PET-CT) service and how services in South Essex have been identified to benefit from the increased capacity and improved facilities.
The Chair introduced Dr Wong, Ruth Ashmore, Jane Hubert and Jess Kinghorn from NHS England and thanked them for attending the committee.
At 7.27 pm Councillor Gupta arrived at the meeting.
Ruth Ashmore and Jane Hubert from NHS England explained the procurement and recommendations resulting from an exercise undertaken by NHS England in February 2015 where a new provider was awarded a 10 year national contract for the provision of a PET-CT scanning. As part of the contract the PET-CT services in South Essex had been identified to benefit from the increased investment to install new scanners and improve the current infrastructure and increase the access to the services available.
There were two options that emerged from this consultation; one is to site the unit at Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals or site the unit at Southend University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (SUH).
Currently a unit is sited at Basildon and Thurrock University Hospital as a mobile unit operating for two days a week. The recommendation is that this unit be moved to Southend University Hospital as a fixed facility which will function five days per week.
Dr Wong, Consultant Radiologist, gave a background to his career. Dr Wong main point was to ensure that service is excellent for the residents of South Essex. Over the next five years there will be an increased use of PET-CT service and stated that siting of the PET-CT scanner should be at Southend so that it can work alongside the radiotherapy services.
Mandy Ansell from CCG was only aware of this item having recently read an article about the proposed change and invited Dr Deshpande and Dr Raja to comment on the report.
Dr Deshpande stated that journey times and the logistics of cancer patients attending appointments should be the most important element of this consultation but the report does not cover this. Patients should not be expected to travel to different hospitals for services which were already in place and working well.
The Chair asked Dr Raja, a GP from a doctor’s surgery in Horndon on the Hill to speak. Dr Raja commented that only 20% of patients live in Southend on Sea and the remaining 80% live in different locations and that some areas such as Harlow were not even part of the consultation process. Dr Raja went on to explain that the current service had been functioning for eight years and was a fantastic service there were no logical reasons to move the service to Southend. At the moment the greatest use of this scanner is for lung cancer patients. All images were already being scanned and sent to Southend with no problem, scans can be sent anywhere in the world and do not need to be in the same building as the radiotherapy services.
Ian Wake concurred with the comments made by Dr Deshpande and Dr Raja and stated that he had concerns on the accuracy of some of the facts within the paper. Ian referred the members to the population access and patient experience section of the report and stated that patient breakdown and that the explanation of the equal number of patients were not accurate and that logistics of the service should be a major consideration.
Ian Wake also commented that the biggest issue with Thurrock patients is the fragmentation of pathways across different hospital sites. Appointments not being held at the same hospital were causing the system to break down.
Kim James from HealthWatch commented than unless CCG had notified HealthWatch they would not have been aware of this item. Kim James also commented that on the engagement of patients and patient’s groups within the recommendation 30 day period of consultation would not be feasible in this short time and that only one group from Thurrock had been contacted and that the voice of all should be heard.
Councillor Ojetola commented with the interest of both sides of the experts in the room his main concern was on behalf of residents of Thurrock. Councillor Ojetola’s concern was that this was the first time he had heard about the report and had concerns with the consultation plan.
Councillor Halden voiced concerns that if Dr Deshpande, Mandy Ansell and Ian Wake had expressed a lack of confidence in the report and if they were they were concerned how would other members be expected to have any confidence. The proposed change in service would not improve cancer patient pathways he would support the Chair’s recommendation to refuse.
Councillor Key echoed Councillor Ojetola and Councillor Halden’s comments and agreed that cancer patients need as little stress as possible when attending hospital appointments and pathways were dictated by hospitals, therefore having to go to two different hospitals for separate services would not work.
The Chair invited a member of the audience to speak. Dr Qaiser Malik, Lead Clinician and Consultant Radiologist at Basildon were asked to join the table and gave a background to his career. Dr Malik confirmed that the PET-CT scanner had been at Basildon Hospital for eight years operating twice a week. Recently this has increased to three to four days per week.
Dr Malik stated that a static building to house the PET-CT could be available within three months with its own entrance into the main department building. Consideration of patients should be a first priority and limit travel times between appointments and it made sense to leave the service in Basildon.
Councillor Key thanked Dr Malik and asked for clarification on how long do patients currently have to wait for a PET-CT and was the service meeting the demand. Dr Malik stated that the waiting time for a PET-CT scan at Basildon was two weeks and demand was being met. Councillor Key then asked why we were proposing this change when we were already meeting demands.
Councillor Barbara Rice made an observation that it was disrespectful of NHS England to submit such late papers to members of HOSC and then expect members to make such a decision on the recommendation was unfair to Thurrock.
Ruth Ashmore thanked the committee for the comments made and apologised for the lateness of the report. Ruth explained that the first step was to explain to the committee the timings and secondly to engage with the community and then report back to Thurrock HOSC to brief Members.
The Chair concluded that the report was a recommendation to move the PET-CT scan to Southend and that NHS England have attended the Thurrock HOSC to seek approval. It is the decision of the Thurrock HOSC not to accept this proposal and recommend that this is refused. The reasons for this being refused is due to the short notice of the report, the statistics in the report being incorrect and not substantial enough with no evidence of there being any improved service to Thurrock Residents by moving the PET-CT service from Basildon to Southend.
It was agreed as a cross-party decision of members to refuse this recommendation.
The Chair thanked Dr Wong, Ruth Ashmore, Jane Hubert and Jess Kinghorn for attending.
1. That the recommendation to move the location of the PET-CT Service from Basildon to Southend be refused.
Mandy Ansell, Dr Deshpande, Dr Wong, Ruth Ashmore, Jane Hubert and Jess Kinghorn left the committee at 20.05.