A SMALL number of cancer patients could have to travel from the IW to Oxford for radiotherapy treatment.

The IW Council expressed concerns over national plans to modernise radiotherapy services in England, which could create a network at Oxford for radiotherapy patients in Hampshire, the IW and Dorset.

Radiotherapy providers would be encouraged to work together in networks to concentrate expertise and improve pathways for patients requiring radical radiotherapy for rarer cancers. The new radiotherapy network hopes to achieve improved clinical outcomes for cancer patients, increased access to innovative treatments delivered by experts in specialist areas, minimise adverse side affects of treatment and increase access to clinical trials.

In a letter to NHS England, the Council's Policy and Scrutiny Committee on Adult Social Care and Health said the potential journey from the Island to Oxford had great implications for patients in terms of distance and cost.

Over 11,000 responses to the consultation were received from individuals, NHS organisations, clinicians, medical and professional associations — including Cancer Research UK — and private healthcare providers.

For a patient to attend an appointment in Oxford, assuming there are no delays or disruptions, would require over three hours of travel each way. If the appointment is at a later time, the patient could be forced to find accommodation for the night.

A round trip would require twelve changes, double that or more than someone travelling from the mainland. A return ticket for the ferry costs £22.60, and a return train ticket £42.50.

It is not known how many patients would have to travel to the Oxford centre, although the numbers are thought to be very low.

The letter continues: "Whilst the committee accepts that patient safety and good clinical outcomes may result from having a facility at Oxford, it has strong reservations about the impact on any Island resident having to travel to this location.

"Not only will there be financial costs involved to a patient, together with the time required for travel, especially if using public transport, but this could impact on the clinical outcome from any treatment."

The committee will wait the results of the national consultation on radiotherapy services before a recommendation is put forward, advising NHS England that the change is deemed a substantial variation in service delivery for Island patients.