A FRUSTRATED councillor has hit out at the “endless layers of bureaucracy” in the NHS as the fight for a cancer treatment unit in West Sussex continues.

Patients in the county currently face long and painful journeys to Brighton, Guildford and London to receive radiotherapy.

For some, the trip would be so traumatic they choose not to undergo treatment.

West Sussex is the only county in England not to have radiotherapy equipment, known as linacs.

Both the Surrey and Sussex Cancer Alliance and NHS England have supported the idea of housing two of the machines at St Richard’s Hospital in Chichester – but progress on getting it done seems to have stalled.

The county council’s health and adult social care committee was given an update on a public consultation on radiotherapy services in England.

Fiona Mackison, of NHS England South East, said there was nothing in the new service specifications to stop the plans for St Richard’s.

But Councillor James Walsh said: “What I want to hear is a commitment that it’s going to happen and we’re going to have our two linacs at Chichester within, let me say, two years.”

Phil McNamara, of the Surrey and Sussex Cancer Alliance, said two years was unlikely, adding: “We will categorically be immediately pushing forward with our plans for West Sussex, to say that we again continue to endorse the two linac position.”

He said the next move had to see NHS trust providers express an interest and come forward to develop a business plan.

It was pointed out such interest had been expressed by the Western Sussex Hospitals Trust at a previous meeting.

HASC chairman Bryan Turner agreed he would ask the trust to “start their process going as soon as possible”.

Dr Walsh said: “My concern is that we’re not really any further on from 12 years ago when this all started. Every decision in the NHS these days seems to go through endless layers of bureaucracy.”