28 January 2014
Whistleblower reports out-of-date radiotherapy machines
Cuts to the NHS budget mean that thousands of cancer patients are being treated on radiotherapy machines that are too old and need to be replaced if they are to offer the best possible care to ill people, a new report has claimed.
An internal whistleblower leaked a document to the Daily Mirror showing that a shocking one in eight of the units in use at NHS hospitals are more than than ten years old, which is considered the cut-off point for their replacement.
This could leave the organisation open to legal action from disgruntled patients who feel they have been treated with unsuitable machines despite the severity of their condition.
Liberal Democrat MP Tessa Munt told the newspaper that something should be done about this issue, which could have an obvious effect on some of the most vulnerable people in Britain.
"Patients won't be safe if they keep these old machines working. They should be replaced with modern machines fit for the 21st century.
The UK is falling further behind other countries in providing modern radiotherapy for cancer patients," she declared.
According to Ms Munt, the situation has degenerated rapidly since NHS England took over the responsibility for commissioning new radiotherapy machines in April of last year.
"This is just not good enough. NHS England needs to wake up and deal with this now," she concluded, pointing out that better standards of cancer treatment can be seen elsewhere in Europe.
Of the 269 machines being used by the health service, 38 of them are more than ten years old, while 139 have been in service for eight years or more.
A recent report from Cancer Research UK highlighted the need for improving radiotherapy treatment across the country, calling for more investment in research as well as better public policy to make it easier for Britons to access this technology.
The prediction that radiotherapy would be outstripped by more advanced techniques has led to a lack of funding for this area, the charity claimed.
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