The Mount Vernon Cancer Centre is in danger of fully or partially closing with speculation that the land could be sold off for housing.
In May 2019 NHS England commissioned an urgent review of Mount Vernon Cancer Centre, led by the East of England Specialised Commissioning Team, due to increasing concern regarding the sustainability of a safe and high-quality oncology service provided at the site.
Among a variety of disappointing findings which reflect the neglect of a decade of underinvestment the review, published in July 2019, cites that:
- “Acute support services have also been progressively depleted on the site over many years such that there is current and increasing concern regarding patient safety” (Prof. Slevin, N. 2019, Page3)
- “Much of the existing estate used by MVCC is dilapidated and not fit for purpose. There is a need for considerable investment in buildings, equipment replacement and IT connectivity i.e. the basic physical infrastructure of the service.” (Prof. Slevin, N. 2019, Page 4)
- “Much of the MVCC building stock is old and decrepit and recent adjustment to service provision have had to be made in some areas as a direct result of this e.g. leaking roofs.” (Prof. Slevin, N. 2019, Page 4)
- “Urgent backlog maintenance of existing clinical facilities” (Prof. Slevin, N. 2019, Page 5)
The report acknowledges that the team at MVCC “continue to provide the best quality care they can within the significant limitations of the current physical environment and clinical systems” (Prof. Slevin, N. 2019, Page 16&17)but further point out that “this is not a sustainable situation” (Prof. Slevin, N. 2019, Page 16&17).
The consequences for staff during this managed decline of MVCC are evident throughout the report:
- “All of this has inevitably led to low morale, frustration, loss of staff and difficulty in sustaining performance targets. Services continue to be provided within very poor-quality accommodation with much equipment reaching the end of its life without a replacement plan.” (Prof. Slevin, N. 2019, Page3)
- “The de-skilling of inpatient staff to cope with acutely unwell patients will inevitably limit the deliverability of complex and innovative treatments and compound nursing and medical recruitment and retention issues.” (Prof. Slevin, N. 2019, Page 9)
- “There are insufficient rooms for medical staff, specialist nurses, dietitians and speech and language therapists. Inadequate electronic systems and poor IT connectivity slow the clinic process. There is no direct real time connection of the x ray systems between MVCC and the hospitals in its catchment area which undermines effectiveness of clinical management.” (Prof. Slevin, N. 2019, Page 9)
- “Staff losses are impacting upon the service. There are additional clinical risks such as the backlog of patient letters and notes as a result of inadequate administrative support” (Prof. Slevin, N. 2019, Page P17)
- “Recruitment and retention of expert staff is an increasing problem and is becoming critical.” (Prof. Slevin, N. 2019, Page P17)
A decade of underinvestment has left the Mount Vernon Cancer Centre in a critical condition. The Government needs to step in secure the future of the essential services that the wonderful staff at the Centre work so hard to provide in the face of hugely challenging conditions.
The full 2019 ‘Mount Vernon Cancer Centre Strategic Review’ can be found here: https://www.england.nhs.uk/east-of-england/wp-content/uploads/sites/47/2019/08/Independent-Clinical-Panel-Report.pdf
Prof. Slevin, N (July 2019) ‘Mount Vernon Cancer Centre Strategic Review’ Available a: https://www.england.nhs.uk/east-of-england/wp-content/uploads/sites/47/2019/08/Independent-Clinical-Panel-Report.pdf