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Radiotherapy campaigners march through Kendal

Category: Health

Published: 3rd Mar 2012 16:26:11

About 2,000 people marched through the streets of a Cumbrian town to call for improved cancer services.

Campaigners are demanding radiotherapy facilities at Kendal's Westmorland General Hospital.

They want to stop cancer patients having to travel for treatment at hospitals outside South Lakeland.

Chemotherapy is provided at the hospital but those who need radiotherapy travel elsewhere, including Carlisle and Preston.

It is estimated at least 400 patients a year are affected.

Plans for a new £10m radiotherapy unit in Kendal are currently before health commissioners.

The Westmorland and Lonsdale Liberal Democrat MP Tim Farron spoke at the demonstration.

He said: "The disease is bad enough, the travelling makes it even worse.

"There are many people in this part of the world who just don't take the radiotherapy because they know they won't be able to complete it, even their doctors know they won't be able to complete it, so they're not recommended for it in the first place."

The MP handed a petition with 11,000 signatures to Cumbria director of public health, Dr John Ashton.

Mr Ashton said: "I'd like to see it happen sooner rather than later and I'm concerned that if the health bill goes through it will be in the long grass for some time because the national commissioners will have to make the decision and it won't be a local decision."

But Mr Farron said he believed local commissioners would make the decision or would make the recommendation that national commissioners would follow.

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