The partner of a Scunthorpe man who has cancer says having to travel 60 miles to visit him every day is unacceptable.
Oncology services were temporarily moved from Scunthorpe hospital last year.
Northern Lincolnshire & Goole NHS Foundation Trust says it was forced to consolidate its services in Grimsby hospital due to a national shortage of specialists – and there is no sign of it changing.
A woman whose partner was diagnosed with bowel cancer earlier this year has spoken about the added stress and inconvenience that is being placed on North Lincolnshire patients as a result.
“Travelling so far to be with my partner every day just isn’t good enough,” the woman, who has asked not to be named, said.
“It is really difficult trying to juggle full-time work around driving to be there for him at the set visiting times.
“There is an added financial burden and stress that you don’t need at a time like this.
“When my partner was admitted to Scunthorpe hospital because he was poorly, he was placed on an assessment ward.
“The oncology nurses were fantastic, but it doesn’t fill you with confidence when they are having to constantly relay information back to the specialists in Grimsby who have never seen him.
“It just isn’t good enough that all cancer patients from North Lincolnshire have to travel the 30 miles each way to Grimsby.
“It is a big area, and one out of every two people will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their life. There need to be local services in Scunthorpe again.”
Peter Reading, the chief executive of Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust, said they are attempting to offer the best service to cancer patients despite the shortages.
“The Humber oncology service, run on behalf of Grimsby and Scunthorpe hospitals by Hull University Teaching Hospitals (HUTH), has a number of consultant oncologist (cancer specialist) vacancies due to a national shortage of these specialists,” he said.
“This meant it was proving very hard to run all oncology clinics safely at all of our locations across the Humber, and so we decided in early 2020 to concentrate these clinics and specialist inpatient oncology services at just two hospitals, Grimsby and Castle Hill, so as to make best use of our limited consultant workforce and to ensure that the service offered continued to be of the very highest standard.
“We were able to retain chemotherapy delivery at both Scunthorpe and Grimsby and there were no changes to cancer surgery.
“I am very sorry that, to maintain the highest standards of care, we had to change where we deliver oncology care for patients from North Lincolnshire and I apologise for the additional stress and inconvenience this has caused to patients and their families.
“I am afraid that the situation with respect to recruiting oncologists has not improved since we introduced this change last year, so this concentration of oncology services at Grimsby and Castle Hill will continue for the time being.”