Health chiefs move to reassure High Peak patients after withdrawal of breast cancer service

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Health chiefs have moved to reassure patients after Stepping Hill Hospital decided to suspend urgent and routine breast cancer referrals from people in the High Peak.

As reported by the Buxton Advertiser last week, the three-month ban means that GP practices in the High Peak and across north Derbyshire cannot refer patients for either routine or urgent two-week wait breast cancer pathways to Stepping Hill.

High Peak MP Ruth George said she was ‘appalled’ by the news.

READ MORE: High Peak MP slams 'appalling' withdrawal of breast cancer service

Zara Jones, executive director of commissioning operations at Derbyshire CCGs, said this week: “Our immediate priority is to ensure that our patients continue to receive the best care available, within an appropriate timescale and ideally at their preferred alternative location whilst this temporary restriction is in place.

“We have been working with the lead CCG, NHS Stockport CCG and acute hospital trusts within travelling distance of High Peak to offer our patients a full range of alternative places for their treatment which are available at the point of GP referral.

“We are also working with the providers of patient transport services and other organisations to establish what support may be available for patients to help them more easily access their preferred place of treatment.

“Alongside this we are ensuring that local GPs are continually updated so that they can keep their patients fully informed and we will continue to do this until the temporary restriction is lifted by Stockport NHS Foundation Trust.”

Commenting on the news about the suspension on our Facebook page, Gemma Ellis – who has appeared in the Buxton Advertiser for her breast cancer cancer fight and fundraising – said: “I am saddened but not surprised. The unit is understaffed and extremely busy. I hope this doesn’t deter people going getting checked.”

Veronica Wilson said: “I’m saddened to hear that this vital service is being withdrawn.”

Christine Keningale said: “This is disgusting. It’s getting out of hand!”

John Robertson added: “This is appalling for women.”

In a joint statement, NHS Stockport CCG and Stockport NHS Foundation Trust said: “At present the breast surgery service at Stockport NHS Foundation Trust has experienced an increase in referrals and also has some vacancies within the service.

“These two factors in combination have meant that waiting times have increased beyond the normal two-week wait.

“As a result we have asked that residents from outside of Stockport are referred to alternative services to ensure that all patients can access care as quickly as possible and to help reduce pressure on local hospital services.”