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 January 2012· Hillingdon and Mount Vernon visitors’ car parking charges will rise.· The new prices are based on the average price across England in NHS hospitals.· Hillingdon Hospital will provide 10 minutes free and Mount Vernon Hospital, (a bigger site with pay and display system), will have 30 minutes free.

Because the two sites have different payment systems their charging is slightly different, although broadly similar.· The new Hillingdon Hospital charges are shown on our Hillingdon page.

Mount Vernon Hospital Pay and Display Charges from January 2012:

 30 mins – 2 hours


2 hours – 10 hours


10 hours – 24 hours


Each extra 24 hours



Disabled parking - free

Weekly visitor permits - £12

Monthly visitor permits - £25

Frequent cancer treatment £1

Published on 13 December 2011

The work of our local hospice deserves to be much better known.  Most people have heard of it-- but knowledge stops there.  The guest speakers at the October 2011 meeting of The Community Voice, of which we are a member, were its General Manager, Helen Elliott, and Ursula O’Leary, Lead Nurse Specialist Palliative Care, who leads the team funded by East & North Herts. NHS Trust within Michael Sobell House.  They kept us enthralled with far more than the few facts that we have space for here.

Michael Sobell House opened in 1977, to serve people within a 25 miles radius, so its patients come mainly from Harrow, Hillingdon and SW Herts.  Sir Michael Sobell donated £250,000 towards its provision, on condition that it be built on crown land and administered by the NHS.  So, it is an integral part of Mount Vernon Cancer Centre, administered by East & North Herts NHS Trust, but on Hillingdon Hospital land.  Of this year’s £2.25m funds, £1.36m came from the NHS and £0.9m came from “The Friends of Michael Sobell House”, the charity set up specifically to support this hospice for local people.

So we now have a hospice with 16 in-patient beds at Mount Vernon which, with its day centre, provides medical support, outpatient services, complementary therapy, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, social support and a hospice at home service.  Its specialist palliative care service also offers emotional and psychological support for patients and carers, art therapy, education, training, and 24-hour telephone support providing advice and information.

Its vision is to ensure all patients, families and carers receive the best possible care and support, with prime focus on quality of life, recognising that every patient is unique and with differing needs.  High quality staff and carefully selected volunteers support patients, families and carers in making choices about treatment and care, all provided free of charge.

The charity started by providing comforts for patients in the unit, but over time NHS funding has reduced and the “Friends” now supply approx. 40% of the costs with a charity turnover in 2010/11 of £1,242,880 and expenditure of £1,266,649, with very low administration costs - the ratio of income to administration costs is 4:1.

The Trustees and the General Manager lead and manage the charity, which funds 66 hospice posts, providing patient services, research, and audit of clinical practices.  Funds are raised by events, collection boxes, donations, Christmas merchandise and the Bridge Club, a Hospice Lottery in collaborative partnership with 6 other hospices, and corporate partnerships such as payroll giving and matched funding, as well as shops in Northwood and Ruislip.  The NHS is obliged to find cost improvement savings of 4.5% in 2011/12, so the “Friends” must raise £2,500 per day!  It costs £6,000 per day to run all the hospice services.

Patients – of any age over 18 years - with any life limiting diagnosis presenting complex needs can be referred to Michael Sobell House by GPs, other clinical staff - or even self-referral initially.  Specialist holistic palliative care for such patients includes complex physical support for pain and symptom management, psychological and spiritual support, complex discharge planning, family and carers’ support, social care and benefits advice.  The first concern of the hospice is to maximise quality of life and to enable patients to return home after treatment – it is not, as many people believe, primarily a place to die.

Its facilities include an art room, hairdressing studio, complementary therapy rooms, a quiet room – appropriate for all religious groups – a much enjoyed aviary and beautiful gardens.  396 volunteers, giving from one hour a month to two days per week, help to provide comfort and care, the youngest aged 16 years and the oldest aged 93!  The volunteers’ total contribution is estimated as 40,000 hours per year, worth £243,000!

If you want to offer help of any kind contact Helen Elliott  - Tel: 01923 844727

Published on 11 October 2011

To combat variability in cancer services across London, a case for change was published in December 2010.  The proposed model of care was subject to three months consultation with clinicians, local authorities and the public.  The proposals are now being taken forward.  Central to the programme is the expectation that providers of care will work together in integrated cancer systems to provide seamless care.   These systems rather than individual organisations will be commissioned to deliver cancer care based on defined care pathways, from next April.

Two groups of providers have submitted their proposals to become integrated cancer systems. One encompassing providers in north east and north central London, called London Cancer, and the other comprising providers in south east, south west and north west London, called The Crescent. Their submissions are now being assessed against the criteria set out in the final specification.

The case for change highlights the UK’s poor survival rates in comparison with the USA and Europe, attributed largely to late diagnosis in UK. The earlier that cancer is diagnosed and treated the greater the patient’s chance of survival and improved quality of life. It is estimated that 1,000 lives per year could be saved in London through earlier diagnosis.

Published on 24 September 2011

Change-machines at Mount Vernon:

The machines have been purchased but have still to be erected.  When in place – some time in October - signs will be erected identifying their position, at the Treatment Centre and the Cancer Centre.  Letters to patients will carry this information and the next time the site map is published the information will be indicated there too.  Interestingly, the change-machines will be run on solar power.

Bus pick-up points at Mount Vernon:

Protracted negotiations with Transport for London are close to completion.  Buses will then go onto the site and passengers will wait in the on-site shelters.  TfL will be responsible for keeping shelters in good repair, clean, free from graffiti and well lit.

Car parking charges:

Prices will rise on 1st January but the rates have not yet been confirmed.

Disabled parking:

It was reported that although all NHS hospitals provide disabled parking bays, the majority require payment on the same terms as for other users.  The Hillingdon Hospital Trust has until now provided disabled parking free of charge, but that policy is being reviewed and could be changed.  Since the Trust manages its car parks directly, any profit from parking charges reverts directly to the Trust.

Published on 24 September 2011

The Restoration and Function Trust, (RAFT), is holding an Open Evening on Tuesday 6th September 2011 from 6.30pm to 8.30pm  at its premises on the Mount Vernon Hospital site.  The event will start with welcoming refreshments.  Visitors will hear about RAFT's research projects and then tour the laboratories to meet scientists, surgeons and fundraisers.   As numbers must be limited, please telephone 01923 844017 to book a place, by 16th August if possible.

RAFT is a charity, dependent on donations and fund raising events, which undertakes research projects related to skin.  It limits itself to three current projects in order to focus its resources effectively.  Currently it is engaged on:
a. A project concerning the relationship of ultra violet light (UVA) to skin cancer, including the development of sun screening creams.
b. The development of Smart Matrix, a scaffold to assist the regeneration of skin to cover large wounds and burns.
c.  The development of artificial limbs attached to the patient's skeleton and operated by the  patient's muscles!

At its June 2011 meeting the Community Voice, of which Ruislip Resident's Association is a member, heard Dr Khwaja Islam speak about the history and work of RAFT.  An account of his address is reported in the "Recent News" section of the Community Voice website.  Click here to go to that website  
Published on 14 July 2011


David Mc Vittie looked into the future when he addressed The Community Voice at its February 2011 meeting.  He is the Chief Executive of The Hillingdon Hospital NHS Trust, which owns the Mount Vernon Hospital site.


Mount Vernon is thriving. The Treatment Centre is dealing with 6,000 day cases per year and 2,000 in-patients.  Both the Cancer Centre and the Treatment Centre appear safe there, for at least 20 or 30 years, but some site issues must be resolved.  Too many tenants are not paying their way and it costs too much to run the site.  Empty buildings have a financial cost and so must be pulled down. 


Both the Cancer Centre and Michael Sobell House have rebuilding plans, but these have to be developed within the vision for the whole site.  There is an urgent need for major buildings to be linked – cancer patients needing surgery are still wheeled under umbrellas to the operating theatres!  There are short term plans to use ambulances to drive them the short distance involved, which is better than using umbrellas, but a long-term solution must depend on rebuilding. Early plans for that may be available within a year, but building could be five years away.  Some land will have to be sold to fund the improvements, but no sales are likely for many years ahead.

The Cancer Centre has an urgent need for new wards, but no one has any money.  Hillingdon Hospital is the landlord, but it has no profit from the premises, so it cannot pay for rebuilding.

First published on 10 March 2011.  Last updated on 01 December 2013



Professor Jane Maher, Chair Macmillan Cancer Support, was our guest speaker on 2nd September 2010.  What changes there have been in cancer treatment since she came to Mount Vernon in 1986!

Cancer survival has improved greatly over the years.  Today over 2 million people are alive with cancer and by 2030 that will grow to 4 million.  However, cancer care has always faced problems.  A cancer diagnosis is frightening for patients.  There are over 200 different cancers.  Hospital treatments can have unpleasant side effects, which may be unfamiliar to GPs.

First published on 20 January 2011.  Last updated on 13 March 2011
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