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July 21, 2010

Taunton Specialist Centre for Gynaecological Cancer Surgery
Filed under: FOI Balls — Dr. Phil @ 8:30 pm

Patient and Public Campaigners who objected to NHS Bath & North East Somerset’s refusal, on the grounds that the RUH did not serve a large enough population, to consider keeping a joint Multidisciplinary Team for Bristol/Bath and surgery in both cities, were bemused to read this Freedom of Information Response from NHS South West in respect of Taunton:

“I refer to your Freedom of Information request of 22 June 2010.  In compliance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000, the South West Strategic Health Authority is able to respond to your request as follows.

1. Who made the decision that Taunton should become a Gynaecological Cancer Surgery Centre, despite not meeting Improving Outcomes Guidance recommendations in terms of population numbers?

The decision to designate Taunton as a gynaecological cancer surgery centre was made by the National Cancer Action Team in 2004, in response to an action plan signed by the Dorset and Somerset Strategic Health Authority and the Taunton Deane Primary Care Trust in June 2004. The proposal took into account the population size of 0.5 million and proposed that Taunton would be part of an Avon, Somerset and Wiltshire multi-disciplinary team with subspecialist support and continuing professional development provided by the Bristol specialist team.

The National Cancer Action Team provisionally agreed to Taunton as a centre subject to it performing well under external peer review in early 2006. The Peer Review Report for the Avon, Somerset and Wiltshire Cancer Network published in September 2006 indicated that the Taunton specialist gynaecology team scored 97% on 1* measures and 80% on level 1 and 2 measures. Against all measures the Taunton centre scored better than either UHBT or RUH Bath.

Therefore the decision to designate Taunton as a gynaecological cancer centre was made by the appropriate bodies and it does meet Improve Outcomes Guidance standards, as the Guidance allows for a centre serving a population of 0.5 million provided it is part of a multi-disciplinary team with a larger centre.

2. What were the reasons for making Taunton an exception?

It is not an exception.

3. Please describe what, if any, consultation took place with Somerset patients, the public and Health Scrutiny Committees to obtain their views about whether they supported the establishment of a non IOG compliant centre for their community.

No consultation took place with Somerset patients and the public and Health Scrutiny Committees about establishing a non IOG compliant centre as the centre was compliant with the IOG.

4. If patients, the public and Health Overview and Scrutiny Committees were not consulted under Section 11 Health and Social Care Act 2001/Section 242 Health & Social Care Act 2006, why was that?

Consultation with Somerset patients, public and health Scrutiny Committees was not necessary as this was the designation of a service as opposed to a substantial variation.

5. Please send me copies of all the documentation to show the audit trail for the decision to make Taunton an IOG exception for Gynae. Cancer Surgery.

Documentation on the 2004 designation process and the 2006 peer review is not held by the South West Strategic Health Authority. It is not an IOG exception for gynaecological cancer surgery”.

Note to NHS South West. The RUH serves a population of approximately 500,000. Taunton and Somerset NHS  Foundation Trust serves a population of approximately 340,000 (source NHS Education South West – Severn School of Medicine).

Despite what the SHA says, serving a population of only 340,000 certainly makes Taunton look very much like an IOG exception to patient & public campaigners – an exception that seems to be performing better than Bristol, the PCTs’ preferred site for a centralised Bristol/Bath Service.