Ruislip Residents' Association

Mount Vernon Hospital

Mount Vernon Hospital is a very complex place.  The site is owned by The Hillingdon Hospital NHS Trust, which provides elective surgery in the Mount Vernon Treatment Centre.  It also provides some of the other acute services on the site, including the  Minor Injuries Unit and a number of out-patient services.

However, Mount Vernon Cancer Centre - the biggest Cancer Centre in the south of England - is the responsibility of East & North Herts NHS Trust, and the Northwood & Pinner Unit  is the responsibility of Central & North West London Foundation Trust.

Several charities are housed on the site – The Paul Strickland Scanner Centre, The Lynda Jackson Macmillan Centre, The Restoration of Appearance and Function Trust (RAFT).  The site also houses commercial interests – Bishopswood Hospital; a private sector dental service; Baxters providing Scanner Centre pharmaceuticals.

There is also the Mountwood GP Surgery, the Michael Sobell Hospice, staff accommodation and Chart Lodge - a patients’ hostel.  Some buildings have historic importance and are listed. Some buildings are empty, awaiting demolition.  If we had the resources, we could devote a whole website to this remarkable place – as it is, we have only this page for news from anywhere on the site.   

From 1st September NHS England has decided not to pay for use of cyberknife for brain metastases treatmnt at Mount Vernon Cancer Centre.  This is a very controversial decision.  The Community Voice, of which Ruislip Residents' Association is a member, has written protesting to the Chief Executive of NHS England, Simon Stevens.  A copy of that protest is shown below.  There is no address on the letter as it was hand delivered by a good friend.

Dear Mr Stevens,

               Exclusion of Mount Vernon Cancer Centre from the commission process that relates to
                     the treatment of patients with brain metastases with stereotactic radiotherapy.

You may recall from earlier correspondence that The Community Voice is an umbrella organisation concerned exclusively with good NHS services.  We are totally independent and represent many thousands of local people in NW London and SW Hertfordshire through our membership - residents associations, community groups and branches of all three major political parties, as well as individual members.  If you wish to know more about us, please see our website, address below.

Our members are aghast that Mount Vernon Cancer Centre (MVCC) is not among the 17 centres from whom NHS England will from 1st September commission stereotactic radiotherapy for the treatment of brain metastasis.  We understand that a trivial omission in the application of the East & North Herts. Hospitals NHS Trust led to MVCC not even being considered for inclusion in this group, despite NHS England being made aware of the highly unfortunate error.  In our view this omission should be rectified and MVCC should be added to the list of accredited centres.

We understand that around a third of the MVCC income to run the equipment dedicated to the delivery of stereotactic radiotherapy (Cyberknife) will be lost if the current directive is implemented.  That is obviously a matter of considerable concern, particularly when all NHS services are under such great current financial pressure.  We are not able to assess whether the loss of income would threaten the viability of MVCC maintaining this equipment, but obviously under-used equipment is always at risk.

However we also have a number of other concerns.  Firstly, we are concerned for cancer patients who develop brain metastasis that do not require surgery, which we understand applies to many patients.  Their established pathways at MVCC will be disrupted if they are obliged to attend other hospitals, undermining the confidence built up over time with familiar MVCC clinicians and subjecting them to unnecessary travelling, all of which will exacerbate the stress inherent in their illness.

We are unclear why brain metastases have been included in a commissioning package which is really meant to consolidate the management of a group of unusual neurological conditions with stereotactic radiotherapy.  We do support that these rare conditions are managed in a small number of specialist centres.

However, we believe that brain metastases should be looked at separately.  Brain metastases are common and we understand that they are best managed by the oncologist that specialises in the specific disease causing the brain metastases, eg breast oncologist if breast cancer, renal oncologist if renal cancer, etc.  Clearly all patients must have access to neurosurgery if needed and for some patients this will be essential, but the decision on which treatment should be offered should be made by the site specific oncologist.  MVCC has been treating such patients for 6 years, with good neurosurgical links when appropriate, and we feel strongly that this should be contracted to continue.

Secondly, we are conscious that MVCC was the first cancer centre to install dedicated stereotactic equipment (Cyberknife) in the UK, due to the great generosity of a private donor.  Similar generosity will be dealt a serious blow if it is known that NHS England obliges donated equipment at MVCC to lie idle rather than being used effectively.  The impact on other potential donors could do the NHS considerable harm.

Thirdly, there is a sense of disbelief that having tutored and mentored many of the 17 centres that will continue to be commissioned, MVCC is itself debarred from this commissioning, for a service that it is fully able to provide.

We hope that what we see as common sense will prevail and that this extremely damaging decision will be reviewed so that MVCC can continue to provide the excellent service for which it is rightly well known.

We ask for your intervention in this very worrying issue.

Yours sincerely,

Joan Davis, Chairman The Community Voice

Copied to:  Nick Carver CEO, East & North Herts. Hospitals NHS Trust, Bob Blackman MP, David Gauke MP, Dominic Grieve QC MP, Richard Harrington MP, Nick Hurd MP, Boris Johnson MP, Gareth Thomas MP Caroline Morison, Chief Operating Officer, Hillingdon CCG

Published on 04 September 2016

The Mount Vernon Cancer Centre is managed by the East & North Herts Hospitals NHS Trust, which is holding the Annual General Meeting as follows:

5pm - 8pm on Tuesday 12th July 2016

Gordon Craig Theatre
Stevenage Arts & Leisure Centre
Lytton Way
Stevenage SG1 1LZ
First published on 05 July 2016.  Last updated on 18 July 2016

The February 2016 meeting of The Community Voice expects to hear of positive progress towards updating of the Mount Vernon Cancer Centre wards.  The current wards are unbelievably old fashioned.  Everyone agrees that they need replacing.  However, problems have arisen, not only because all NHS organisations are under huge current financial pressure, but also because the cancer services and the Cancer Centre buildings are the responsibility of two different NHS Trusts - the services are the responsibility of East & North Herts NHS Trust, but the buildings and land belong to The Hillingdon Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

The Community Voice, of which Ruislip Residents' Association is a member, has always championed the Mount Vernon Cancer Centre and it has monitored developments closely.  The Chief Executives of the two above NHS Trusts were guest speakers at the Community Voice meeting in September 2014 and, having told us that they have good news to impart, the two trusts will be providing a further update on February 4th at 7.45pm in the Post Graduate Centre at Mount Vernon Hospital.  The guest speakers will be Shane DeGaris, Chief Executive of The Hillingdon Hospitals NHS FT and Stephen Posey, Deputy Chief Executive of East & North Herts. Hospitals NHS Trust (as the Chief Executive, Nick Carver, will be out of the country).  Feel free to attend this meeting and have the opportunity to question the speakers if you wish.  Visitors will be welcomed as guests and a free parking permit can be obtained by 'phoning 01895 636095 in advance.

Published on 04 January 2016

The charity Floral Angels works out of New Covent Garden Flower Market in Vauxhall.  It recycles donated flowers from events, weddings and florists, to hospices, care homes, homeless shelters and other worthy causes in the Greater London area, relying on volunteers and donations for delivery – more volunteers are needed.

Since January 2013 Michael Sobell House has received 136 floral bouquets and arrangements
Published on 09 May 2015

Michael Sobell Hospice needs to raise lots of money to pay for the service it provides, so it is always thinking ahead with new fundraising ideas.  Here are some of its Spring 2015 events:


Saturday 9th May - a Plant Sale at the Hospice, 10am - 12.30pm

Sunday 17th May -  a Sponsored Bike Ride, 33miles via Bovingdon, Hemel Hempstead and Amersham, starting at 8am - Pre-registration entry fee £15, or £20 on the day

Friday 12th June - Ladies in the Night walk, 5.5 miles or 9 miles.  Starts 10pm, £20 entrance fee (before 5th June) provides a tee shirt, and breakfast afterwards 

Published on 06 May 2015

Rosemary Lucey, Head of the Lynda Jackson Macmillan Centre was the guest speaker at the November 2014 meeting of The Community Voice, of which we are a member.

The notes below summarise her address.

  1. Research  about the needs of cancer patients was carried out initially in response to patients and carers concerns, in collaboration with the family of Lynda Jackson and Macmillan Cancer Support, who provided the money for the building.  The Lynda Jackson Macmillan Centre was opened in June 1993 by HRH Prince Charles, and it celebrated its 20th anniversary last year. The Centre introduced a new concept in how to care for cancer patients and their families at all stages of a cancer diagnosis.  Because of its success, there are now 171 Macmillan Cancer Centre Support and Information Centres across the country.
  2. The Centre is funded from a number of sources - East & North Hertfordshire NHS Trust, donations, awards, research grants, fundraising events and selling Christmas cards.
  3. Two thirds of cancer sufferers are aged over 65 years, due to the ageing population, and less than 1% are below 24 years of age. There are 200 different types of cancer, affecting many organs of the body, with differing and complex causes. the incidence is increasing by 3% each year.
  4. 2 million people in the UK are now living with or beyond cancer diagnosis. This number is increasing by 3% every year. The survival rate is increasing and in 2006 1.13 million cancer sufferers were alive 10 years after diagnosis.
  5. Cancer can have many causes including lifestyle factors, genetics, smoking, diet, alcohol, occupation, obesity, lack of exercise, infection, radiation and sunlight.
  6. Cancer death rates in the UK have fallen by approx one fifth in the last 40 years and by 10% over the last decade.
  7. Cancer remains the No 1 fear among the British public, and the impact of the diagnosis can be devastating, causing problems psychologically and physically, including fear of what the future holds.
  8. The Centre offers support for patients and their families, and gives accurate and up to date  information about all aspects of cancer.   This service is available at any stage of a patient's illness.
  9. Over the years the Centre has learned more and more about what patients need and there is a multi-professional team on hand. There are now over 100 people in the staff at the Centre, who continually upgrade their knowledge and improve their communication skills.  The staff consists of volunteers, healthcare professionals - including psychotherapists, psychiatrists, therapists and  researchers – and also fundraisers and administrators.
  10. The Centre offers many complementary therapies - Aromatherapy, Reflexology, Relaxation, Indian Head Massage, Reiki and Ear Acupuncture.
  11. Numerous awards have been won by the Centre including the Nye Bevan, Prime Minister and Prince Charles Awards, BMA awards for information, the latest this year being a Guide for patients having Radiotherapy to the Head, Neck, Mouth and Throat.
  12. The drop in Centre offers support and information about all aspects of coping with cancer, including benefits advice. There are support groups for many types of cancer, some are linked to other national support groups and charities.
  13. Anyone affected by cancer can use the centre although there are eligibility criteria for the one to one services such as counselling and complementary therapies.
  14. Leaflets at the Centre have the ‘Information Standard’ Kite Mark and the Centre was chosen as on of only 15 ‘beacon’ sites within the NHS to introduce the Information Prescription initiative.  It won the Macmillan award for ‘Team Excellence’ last year.
  15. The Centre relies on obtaining grants and donations to maintain its services but needs more space to develop and to carry out services for an increasing number of users.
  16. The speaker finished by noting that a measure of success is that LMJC has gone from being a pioneer in the field 21 years ago to a mainstream service that responds to over 36,000 requests for help a year.

Margaret Ross thanked the speaker on behalf of the audience, which was endorsed by resounding applause from the floor.

Published on 29 November 2014

Research updateDr Paul Nathan is the UK Chief Investigator for a research study that has just been accepted for publication in the New England Journal of Medicine – the world’s highest clinical journal.  The study demonstrates that the combination of two medications is superior to one alone in the treatment of a form of metastatic melanoma.  This identifies a new standard of care for these patients. The research team at the Mount Vernon Cancer Centre included Dr Nathan, his colleague Dr Corner, research nurse Angie Smith and study co-ordinator Jo Pascoe.  The success of this study is an excellent example of the Cancer Centre’s high quality research.
Michael Sobell Hospice: The hospice,  based at Mount Vernon Hospital, has a 16 bed in-patient unit as well as a day therapy centre.  It is the chosen charity of the Mayor of Hillingdon, Councillor Catherine Dann during her year of office.  The hospice has made a video to show what it means to the people who use it. In this Helen Elliott, the Manager, explains that the charity needs to raise about £2,500 per day to maintain its 40% share of the running costs of the hospice. See its website for more information.
Published on 13 October 2014

The two guest-speakers at the September 2014 meeting of The Community Voice, of which we are a member, were Nick Carver, Chief Executive, East & North Herts. NHS Trust and Shane DeGaris, Chief Executive, The Hillingdon Hospitals NHS FT.

1.  Nick Carver spoke first, noting that both East & North Herts. Trust and Hillingdon Hospitals FT have responsibilities on the Mount Vernon Hospital site.  His own Trust is responsible for the Mount Vernon Cancer Centre services and Hillingdon FT for the whole site as landlord, and for provision of other NHS services.

2.  He noted the successful Community Voice campaign to keep the Cancer Centre on the site, before outlining subsequent developments.  Many millions of NHS and charitable funds have been invested in the Cancer Centre since 2007 to provide outstanding facilities, including modern linear accelerators and the first cyber-knife in the NHS.  However, the cancer wards are poor. The Cancer Centre staff members are fantastic in their dedication to the service.

3.  Unfortunately replacing the cancer wards is very complex.  Hillingdon FT has its own needs on the site, but before a Business Case to rebuild the cancer wards can be written the East & North Herts. Trust must have title to the relevant land.  Both Trusts are committed to resolving this problem.

4.  Shane DeGaris outlined the many NHS services on the Mount Vernon site, which hosts over twenty successful businesses.  His Trust wishes to consolidate high quality services around the Treatment Centre and this year it has opened a new endoscopy suite in the Treatment Centre and more recently the specialist neurological rehabilitation unit in Daniels Ward, which takes patients from a wide area and is massively oversubscribed.  His Trust is subject to pressure to assist other NHS organisations with orthopaedic work and in Edmunds Ward it provides step down facilities for Northwick Park Hospital.  Patients like the Treatment Centre, so do GPs and so do Commissioners.

5 His Trust is committed to the Mount Vernon site, but future plans for the site must suit both Trusts. The two Chief Executives meet every two or three weeks to progress towards that goal.

The speakers answered many questions from which the following points emerged

6.  East & North Herts. Trust does not currently have funds with which to replace the Mount Vernon cancer wards.  A solid Business Case will be the first step towards achieving that funding.

7.  The Chairman of Michael Sobell Hospice, Rod Lucey, made a plea that palliative care should not be forgotten in the redevelopment of the cancer wards, which was acknowledged by Nick Carver.

8.  At this point in time it is not possible to predict when it will be possible to produce a Business Case for replacement of the cancer ward block.  Both Boards will be kept fully informed and when it is available the presentation of the Business Case to the Boards will take it into the public domain.

The speakers were thanked on behalf of the audience, which was endorsed by sustained applause as they left the hall.

Published on 17 September 2014
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