Brighton hospital radiotherapy team hits treatment target

Posted On 09 Sep 2012 at 4:31 am

Radiotherapists at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton have hit a national treatment standard by working late and at weekends.

The staff in the Royal Sussex radiotherapy team have been praised for putting in longer hours to make up for delays caused by old and unreliable equipment.

Work is due to start next year on replacing the four old linear accelerators (linacs) at the Sussex Cancer Centre, which is part of the Royal Sussex.

Extra linacs are also due to be installed at Worthing Hospital and Eastbourne District General Hospital.

Chris Adcock, acting chief executive of Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals, the trust that runs the Royal Sussex, said: “For many years we have asked our specialist medical physics and radiotherapy staff to work with limited and antiquated equipment.

“To their absolute credit they have moved mountains to continue to deliver a quality service.

“In the early part of this year, rising numbers of referrals, staff shortages and the fragility of our ageing equipment were impacting on our ability to deliver the national standard of giving 94 per cent of patients subsequent radiotherapy treatment within 31 days.

“When we were unable to meet this we worked to secure access to other radiotherapy sites.

“This was not possible for all patients and due to the nature of the treatment this is a service we really want and need to provide as locally as possible.

“In response, our radiotherapy team have changed the way their working day is structured to keep the treatment machines open more hours each day and by working late and at weekends to cover time lost when machines break down.

“Thanks to their flexibility and sheer hard work the standard has been achieved for July.”

NHS Sussex, which commissions health services across the county, announced plans earlier this year to double radiotherapy capacity by 2014 with demand growing.

Mr Adcock said: “Until we have in place all the new investments, which will increase capacity and reduce the burden on the existing service, it will continue to be a considerable challenge to maintain this level of performance, although I know the team has this in their sights.

“Modernising this service in a sustainable way is a significant priority for the hospital and our commissioners and we will work hard to achieve this as soon as possible.”

While the work is under way some patients from Brighton and Hove may have to travel to other hospitals for treatment, including the private Sussex Health Care Centre at Pease Pottage, just outside Crawley.

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