High Peak MP condemns withdrawal of breast cancer service

High Peak MP Ruth George has condemned a decision by Stepping Hill Hospital to suspend urgent and routine breast cancer referrals from High Peak patients.

Local GPs were told about the decision on Tuesday 25 September, and the initial 3-month ban on High Peak referrals started just a few days later, on Friday 28 September.

Ruth said: “I and local GP practices in High Peak are appalled that such a vital service can be withdrawn at such short notice and with no consultation.

“This ban risks undoing years of work to combat breast cancer by encouraging women to check themselves, to have mammograms and to go to their GP.

“It is especially worrying at the start of Breast Cancer Awareness month when both women and men are urged to check themselves and visit their GP if they have concerns.  People who are very worried need to be able to see a specialist as soon as possible. This ban by Stepping Hill, which is the easiest hospital to reach from much of High Peak, especially for people who rely on public transport, will make it harder to get to see a specialist.

“Other hospitals in Chesterfield and Manchester are more than an hour’s drive away and difficult to get to on public transport.  Vulnerable patients will find it almost impossible to get there if they don’t have their own car, a situation which is only likely to deteriorate as winter pressures escalate.

“It is yet another sign of the immense pressure which the NHS is facing, coming after the announcement by Macclesfield Hospital that it too has stopped providing some services for High Peak residents.”

The ban means that GP practices in High Peak and across North Derbyshire cannot refer patients for either routine and urgent two week wait breast cancer pathways to Stepping Hill.

Ruth has contacted North Derbyshire CCG to ask what alternative arrangements have been put in place so that patients from High Peak can be referred to an appropriate breast care provider, especially for urgent cases.

“I have also asked the CCG what it is doing to prevent further restrictions in services to Derbyshire patients by providers over the border.”