Children hit by delays in opening two proton beam cancer units
Hundreds of children with cancer are being given inferior treatment because of a failure to open two specialist centres offering state-of-the art therapy, experts have said.
NHS officials admit that no patient has yet received proton beam therapy (PBT) at either its new London or Manchester sites, despite a government pledge to treat 1,500 patients a year by 2018.
Leading oncologists called for transparency after two opening dates at the Christie NHS Foundation Trust were pushed back this year.
Proton beam uses a high-energy beam of particles to destroy cancer cells while leaving healthy tissue unaffected. It came to public attention in 2014 when the parents of Ashya King, a five-year-old cancer sufferer, were briefly jailed after removing him from an NHS hospital and taking him abroad for proton beam treatment.
Colin Hopper, a maxillofacial cancer surgeon at University College London, said: “We should be told why things are moving slower than expected.”
A Christie spokesman said its PBT centre has been operational from Aug 20. The trust said patients would begin PBT before the end of “autumn”. NHS England said autumn ends on Dec 21.