Pensioner’s plight shows ‘urgent need’ for St Richard’s radiotherapy centre

St Richard's and Worthing A&Es are extremely busy
St Richard's and Worthing A&Es are extremely busy

A man in his 80s forced to travel hundreds of miles a week for cancer treatment highlights the ‘desperate need’ for a West Sussex radiotherapy centre.

The pensioner, who lives in Slindon, is unable to drive so friends have been taking it in turns to taxi him and his wife to Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham for treatment.

He has been undergoing radiotherapy for four weeks and has to make the 50-mile round trip five days a week, leaving him ‘exhausted’.

Friend Sheila Carter from Felpham said: “There are about nine of us husbands and wives who take it in turns to drive them to hospital.

“He has bone cancer in his leg and can no longer drive, and because there’s no regular buses he has no other way of getting there.

“He’s well into his 80s and is in pain all the time.

“It’s a long drive for him and then there’s always a wait, sometimes clinics are running 45 minutes late.

“He’s always very tired when we drop him back.”

West Sussex is the only county in England not to have treatment machines, called linacs, in its boundary.

It means patients receiving radiotherapy have to travel to either Brighton, Cosham, Guildford, or Redhill.

Chichester MP Gillian Keegan raised the issue in parliament in January, and is pushing for new radiotherapy centre to be built at St Richard’s Hospital.

Speaking to the Observer this week, Mrs Keegan said she had spoken with hospital bosses and a case for the new facility was being considered by the Cancer Alliance. She said: “We have an outstanding hospital in St Richard’s and I think we have a good business case for a facility there.

“Making people who have cancer travel long distances for treatment when they are already unwell just isn’t fair.”

Strongly agreeing, Mrs Carter added: “We desperately need a radiotherapy centre in St Richards. “It is extremely tiring for our friend and there must be many patients from West Sussex who have to put up with the same journey for many days.”

If you have to travel a long way for cancer treatment and would be happy to speak to us, please email or call 01243 534166.