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Breast cancer surgery fury

PUBLISHED: 12:55 27 September 2010

PLANS to scrap breast cancer surgery in Havering have been blasted by survivors.

Barking, Havering and Redbridge Hospitals Trust (BHRT) wants to centralise major treatments at King George Hospital, in Goodmayes - which it says will be the first step in developing a £250,000 “centre of excellence”.

Currently operations are ­carried out in Queen’s Hospital, in Rom Valley Way, and ­­pre-surgery procedures performed by the award-winning team at Victoria Hospital cancer clinic, in Pettits Lane, Romford.

The move has been strongly criticised by two former breast cancer patients, Sheelagh Glynn and Angela Chapman, who argue the move will mean many patients will be forced to travel a considerable distance for treatment.

The women formed pressure group, Breast Cancer SOS Group, last week, to fight proposals. A Facebook page has already attracted more than 100 followers.

Group chairman Angela, 41, said: “King George is full to capacity and I don’t see how it’s going to ­manage. It’s totally alarming.”

The mum-of-two, from ­Hornchurch, added: “We are also unhappy at the lack of public consultation. The process is being done in a very sly and underhand way.”

However, a spokesman for the trust said it had received “very positive feedback to date from those we have briefed”.

Dr Ian Abbs, a medical director at the trust, defended the plans, which he said would improve breast cancer services for the people of Havering, Barking and Dagenham, and Redbridge. “We want to ensure patients with symptoms of breast cancer get the best possible care, meaning both their clinical outcomes and their experience of our services,” he said.

“This is why we are putting forward plans to bring our breast surgery services together at King George Hospital.

“It is also important that ­routine breast screening is available close to people’s homes, and our plans for breast surgery will not affect this.”

Under the proposals, put before the Outer North East London Health Joint Overview and Scrutiny Committee in Redbridge Town Hall, Ilford, on Tuesday afternoon, the two breast surgeons currently based at Queen’s would be transferred to King George to join their team of three consultants.

The trust also hopes to increase the amount of specialist staff to support the surgeons.

Breast screening services will still be available at local medical hubs.

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