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Sussex patients face long trips during wait for new service
Cancer patients will have to travel more than 20 miles for treatment while vital upgrades are made to specialist equipment.
More than £3 million is being spent on developing radiotherapy services across Sussex which will eventually lead to more patients being treated closer to home.
Currently, more than 2,500 patients a year travel from across the county for radiotherapy at Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton.
Others have to travel outside the county to Havant, Portsmouth and Guildford.
NHS Sussex is now planning to more than double the amount of radiotherapy services available across the county in the next two years.
This will cut down on travel times for patients in the east and west of the county.
A programme will also begin next year to replace the four machines in Brighton with more modern and efficient ones.
While this is happening, patients will have to travel from Brighton to the privately-run Sussex Health Care Centre at Pease Pottage near Crawley.
They will remain patients of Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust and will be treated by NHS doctors.
NHS Sussex chief executive Amanda Fadero said: “This is really good news for cancer patients across Sussex.
“Radiotherapy needs specialist technology and highly specialist buildings.
“By working with an external provider we will more than double radiotherapy in Sussex by 2014 – something the NHS has wanted to achieve for some time.”
Brighton and Sussex chief executive Duncan Selbie said: “Working in this way means we can make improvements to existing services quicker, and increase our capacity in a way which is safe, efficient, cost-effective and sustainable.”
A spokesman for the Sussex Cancer Network Partnership Group for patients and carers, said: “For some patients, travelling to current services has been a barrier due to long travelling times and costs and we very much welcome this news on their behalf.”