Plans to develop a world-class specialist cancer hospital and research centre in the heart of Liverpool have been given resounding approval from patients, the public and local authorities in the region.
The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre NHS Foundation Trust wants to develop a new hospital providing expert care and carrying out ground-breaking research and clinical trials on the same site as the Royal Liverpool University Hospital and the University of Liverpool.
Services would also continue at its current sites in Wirral and Aintree and its chemotherapy and outpatient clinics in hospitals across the region. The Wirral site could continue to care for round 90 per cent of patients who live nearby, although inpatient beds and the most complex care would move from to Liverpool where there would be on-site access to intensive care and other key specialties.
Now the results of the Transforming Cancer Care public consultation on the proposals, which ran from July to October, have been independently analysed by experts at Liverpool John Moores University.
In total, 91% of people supported the vision for expanding and improving cancer care and 88.5% said the proposals for the new hospital would achieve it.
Even in areas where some people would have further to travel if inpatient beds and the most complex care moved to Liverpool, there was strong support. In Wirral, 78% of people supported the vision and 71% said the proposals would achieve it. In Cheshire West and Chester, 82% supported the vision and 74% said the proposals would achieve it.
Proposals for the new hospital have also received unanimous approval from the Joint Health Scrutiny Committee for Cheshire and Merseyside, which was established by the region’s local authorities to consider whether the new hospital was in the best interests of people’s health.
Two councillors from each of the eight local authorities involved – Cheshire West and Chester, Halton, Knowsley, Liverpool, Sefton, St Helen’s, Warrington and Wirral* – heard evidence from a range of witnesses at a series of meetings in public in November and December. At its final meeting on 4th December, the committee voted unanimously in favour of a motion to support the proposals for Transforming Cancer Care.
Andrew Cannell, Chief Executive of The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre, said: “We passionately believe this £118m investment will significantly expand and improve cancer care in Merseyside and Cheshire with an additional radiotherapy site, a more central location with on-site specialties including intensive care, and enhanced research capability through closer working with the university.
“Needless to say, we’re thrilled that patients, the public and the local authorities have given their resounding endorsement for us to develop an outline business case for the new hospital in Liverpool and the associated redesign and improvement of our Wirral site.”
Councillor Richard McLinden, Chairman of the Joint Health Scrutiny Committee for Cheshire and Merseyside, said: “This has been a very thorough scrutiny which has look at all the issues connected with this scheme and afforded people both the opportunity and time to give their views. As Chair I am delighted at the Committee’s unanimous endorsement of proposals that will provide state of the art facilities for both treatment and research at the new Liverpool site, as well as improvements to the current Wirral site.”
The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre will now develop an outline business case, which it expects will be approved in summer 2015. A full business case will follow a year later, enabling building work to start in 2016. The new hospital in Liverpool would open in autumn 2018 and work to remodel and upgrade the Wirral site would be complete in 2019.
*Cheshire East Council opted not to be part of the committee as only a small number of its residents are treated at The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre.
Summary of consultation process and John Moores University report
Consultation roadshows and questionnaire
• There were 117 public roadshows across Merseyside. In addition, the team visited groups and meetings of GPs, patients and community/voluntary organisations.
• We engaged with 100,950 people, had face-to-face contact with 10,433 people, and distributed 38,749 summary consultation documents.
• In total, 1,054 individuals responded to the consultation questionnaire and there were 14 responses from organisations/groups.
• Individual respondents’ areas of residence broadly correlated to The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre’s patient population
• 91% supported the vision for Transforming Cancer Care.
• 88.5% thought the proposals would achieve it and improve quality of care.
• 78% of Wirral and 82% of Cheshire West and Chester respondents supported the vision, while 71% of Wirral and 74% of Cheshire West and Chester respondents thought the proposals would achieve it and improve quality of care. (In a similar survey in 2012/13, 41% of people in CH postcodes supported the proposals.)
• 84% of respondents said quality of care was more important than the distance travelled to receive it.
• 94% said they agreed that inpatients would get better, safer care on a site with intensive care and other key specialties.
• The vast majority of respondents said all groups (patients, families, carers, others) would be positively affected by the proposals.