Three weeks ago, I recorded a video on the Sunrise Appeal Facebook page asking for help in challenging NHS England’s proposed plans. Plans which, if implemented, would result in moving some radiotherapy treatments away from the Sunrise Centre at Treliske to Plymouth or Exeter, or maybe even Bristol.
We were told that we were getting het up about nothing, that there are no plans to Close the Sunrise Centre. We knew that. We were told that we were getting things out of proportion, that it was just a very small number of patients with rare tumours. Those patients are, quite rightly, already referred to specialist centres for treatment.
But the consultants at the Sunrise Centre told us that they are very worried that these proposals could affect 200 or more patients a year from Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. 200 patients who are currently treated in Cornwall by superb staff, on world class equipment, using advanced techniques.
I don’t believe that’s getting het up about nothing. I don’t believe that’s getting things out of proportion…and according public reaction, neither does a huge portion of the population.
A quarter of a million people have accessed our Facebook page and 130,000 people watched a video we posted calling for action to oppose these plans. The support we have received has been astonishing. Comments and stories have flooded in with more and more people responding to the public consultation. Local radio, television and press have given the story wide coverage and given us a greater voice. Questions have been raised in Parliament by our MPs.
We asked everyone to share and shout – and they have. I can say with confidence that this is one public consultation which has not slipped quietly under the radar.
Thank you. Thank you wholeheartedly to everyone who has joined us in this campaign so far.
Now is the time to draw breath. NHS England will be making their recommendations in April. After that, we will either be able to celebrate or we will be rallying our supporters to take the fight to the next stage.
Together we can do this. Together we can make people listen. Together we can make a difference.
Janet Shephard BEM
Trustee of the Sunrise Appeal and Former Head of Radiotherapy