The Daily Telegraph

Children hit by delays in opening two proton beam cancer units

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 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.

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