THE NEW joint CEO of the Royal Bournemouth and Poole Hospitals has been explaining about how cancer treatment will be delivered in East Dorset, after the two hospitals merge.

Debbie Fleming, who took up her post earlier this month, was responding to fears expressed by the Defend Dorset NHS campaign that: ‘Poole oncology is being moved to Bournemouth’.

“All cancer treatment is not going to move to Bournemouth, although it was always known that haematology and bed oncology would be at Bournemouth,” she said. “Cancer isn’t one disease and you can have cancer of so many different parts of the body and each is a specialism in its own right. At the moment, local people with cancer use both hospitals and that will continue but for slightly different things.”

Cancer diseases would in future be treated in the hospital which was appropriate for that patient’s pathway, she said. “Suspicion of cancer would be referred to outpatients on either site and depending on what investigations were needed or if surgery was required, patients will be treated at the appropriate hospital.”

One of the reasons for this, she said, was a patient’s age and general health. A younger or fitter patient may need to be treated in a different place to one with comorbidity – a medical term for patients with more than one disease or disorder who needed more intensive or specialist care. An example of comorbidity, she said, could be an elderly lady with diabetes and Alzheimer’s who also develops breast cancer.

“The Dorset Cancer Centre is based at Poole and offers the radiotherapy service with the linear accelerators, specialist prostate care and the Robert White Centre in Dorchester is a satellite of that,” she said. “This service isn’t going anywhere because you can’t move the machines and we wouldn’t want to.”

In future, she said, where patients receive chemotherapy will depend on where they live and any possibly complications or comorbidity.

“If you are unwell and need a chemo or oncology bed you would be admitted to the major emergency hospital (Bournemouth) where the staff want to offer the benefits of a specialist team,” she said.