SOME cancer services in Halton could be moved to St Helens as part of a planned shakeup of services.

Health bosses want to set up a new ‘cancer hub’ at St Helens Hospital which would serve Halton, Knowsley, St Helens and Warrington patients who need initial assessments or non-surgical treatment for the most common cancers.

The move comes after Halton Hospital failed in its bid to host the new hub.

The current model of assessment and treatment is centred around Clatterbridge Cancer Centre (CCC) in Wirral, with some services being delivered at four hospitals – St Helens, Whiston, Warrington and Halton.

But rising cancer rates, a lack of specialist staff and the availability of new treatments have prompted health chiefs to propose a new local hub model, which would see most of those appointments and non-surgical, less complex procedures carried out at one site and operate seven days a week.

A report outlining the plans to Halton Council’s Health Policy and Performance Board, said: “The intention is that patients would be seen in a Cancer Care Service Hub for their OPFA (first appointment) and offered a full range of support services and improved access to clinical trials.

“Consultants would be based in the hub so that they can work as one oncology team with other health care professionals such as specialist nurses, research nurses, physiotherapists and occupational therapists.”

Two proposals for the hub’s location had been submitted, one for St Helens and another for it to be based at Halton Hospital, with the first option receiving a higher score during the evaluation process.

The report said: “The panel’s moderated score for the St Helens and Knowsley Teaching (STHK) Hospitals NHS Trust proposal was significantly (30 percentage points) higher than that for the Warrington and Halton Hospital proposal, with the STHK proposal in particular demonstrating a greater understanding of and ability to deliver the hub service, organisational performance and clinical quality, patient and staff experience.”

The report also said some patients in Halton could see the distance they have to travel for appointments double.

It said: “Locating the hub at the St Helens sites would increase the average mileage for patients travelling by private transport from four miles to approximately eight miles and affect approximately 120 patients.

“This would also involve crossing the Mersey, although eligible Halton residents travelling by car can make unlimited crossings for an annual fee of £10. The average bus journey times would also increase by 20 minutes."

The report added that having completed a pre-consultation business case, the plans will go out to public consultation.