England

UK proton beam therapy trial sites shortlisted

Three hospitals in England have been shortlisted as possible sites to trial a new form of radiotherapy.

Proton beam therapy can target cancer cells more accurately than radiotherapy and is available in the United States.

The three potential trial sites are the Christie NHS Foundation Trust in Manchester, University College London Hospital and University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust.

Previously the health secretary said Birmingham would be a chosen centre.

Last week Andrew Lansley told BBC WM: "I have made it clear that we are going to support, over the next four years, with £43m, the roll out of proton beam therapy at a number of centres and indeed the University Hospital of Birmingham will be one of those centres."

Patients sent abroad

The Conservative minister added: "We are able within the next four years to ensure that patients are not having to go abroad in order to get access to this proton beam therapy but are able to do it in this country."

When asked if this meant that Birmingham would be given the trial, the Department of Health would not confirm this.

A spokesman said this week it was evaluating all three sites.

"The department has been considering options for providing proton beam therapy (PBT) and following a formal evaluation of proposals received from NHS Trusts, three sites have been selected as preferred hosts, subject to business case approval.

"While the case for PBT facilities in this country is being developed, we will continue to send patients abroad for this treatment where clinically appropriate."

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