Sheffield opposition to proposals to axe specialist centre for brain conditions

Sheffield's Royal Hallamshire Hospital
Sheffield's Royal Hallamshire Hospital

Patients across Sheffield with brain conditions – including cancer – could be affected by drastic plans to axe more than half of the UK’s specialist treatment centres.

NHS England wants to reduce the number of units delivering innovative stereotactic radiosurgery, a targeted, non-invasive treatment for brain tumours and other conditions, even though demand for the service is booming.

A report says the preferred option is to increase the number of treatments provided overall with a seven-day service at between six and 12 units.

There are currently 23 units with the ability to carry out gamma knife across the country, three of them at Sheffield’s Royal Hallamshire and Thornbury Hospitals.

Sheffield is also home to the National Centre for Stereotactic Radiosurgery and has treated over 12,000 people over the years.

Hillsborough dad Peter Burchill, whose daughter Sophie battled a brain tumour and supports patients by working for charity Brainstrust, said: “To be reducing the number of centres that can deliver stereotactic radiosurgery at a time when it, as a treatment for brain cancer, needs to be optimised seems incredible.

“More people are living with primary cancer and about 40 per cent of cancers spread to the brain.

“So there is a growing need for this treatment. ”

Neurosurgeon Dr Andras Kemeny, director of radiosurgery at Thornbury, said: “This proposal is trying to limit access which is in my view wrong because then treatments which are more expensive have to be used, like open surgery or other radiotherapies, so it does not save money.”

Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said it had not been informed of any plans to close the facilities.

Kirsten Major, director of strategy and operations, said: “We will be giving our views as part of the current NHS England consultation.”