Breast cancer survivors protest against plans to scrap surgery in Havering

BREAST cancer survivors and their families staged a protest against plans to scrap breast cancer surgery in Havering over the weekend.

More than 70 people from Breast Cancer SOS Group turned up outside of the Victoria Hospital cancer clinic in Petits Lane, Romford armed with banners and placards against the proposals by the Barking, Havering and Redbridge NHS Trust to centralise major treatment at King George Hospital in Goodmayes on Saturday November 20.

Organiser and founder of Breast Cancer SOS, Angela Chapman said: “It was a fantastic turn out because we had people passing by beeping their horns and just showing their support.

“They said that they have consulted but very few people know about what is actually being planned so we managed to really raise awareness.”

The protest included Cllr Barbara Mathews (Hacton,RA) who herself beat breast cancer and saw the campaigners demonstrating from the clinic to along Main Road, Romford outside of Romford Central Library.

Breast Cancer treatment is currently carried out at the Queen’s Hospital in Rom Valley Way, Romford and pre surgery procedures performed at the Victoria Hospital, but they argue that by moving the services they will force patients to travel.

Bosses at the hospital argue that the move would benefit patients and would be the first step in a �250,000 centre of excellence.

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Cllr Barbara Mathews said: “I am just concerned about the women over the years who are going to be diagnosed because there is nothing telling me that things are going to be better for them.

“The surgery treats mainly patients from Havering so it makes sense that it should be convenient for them in Havering rather than having to travel to King George Hospital.”

Breast Cancer SOS was set up in September to try to overturn the plans by the hospital and to save breast cancer surgery in Havering.

The group have also set up a facebook page attracting 600 followers and they are planning another protest before the final decision is made on November 30.

Medical Director at the BHR NHS Trust, Dr Ian Abbs said: “We have been particularly pleased to hear how much patients, support groups and the community as a whole have valued the supportive environment at the Victoria Centre, and we will ensure that our plans protect these aspects of the service.

“Revised proposals will be put forward to the Trust Board next week.

“We need to get the balance right between providing services in specialist hospital facilities, which is right for an area like surgery, while providing other services in the community, such as clinics.

“We want to ensure patients with symptoms of breast cancer get the best possible clinical care in the most appropriate and supportive environment”.