Last night, local MP Tim Farron chaired the second part of a major parliamentary inquiry into the availability of radiotherapy services across the UK.
In the session he and other MP colleagues pressed senior NHS managers responsible for national commissioning of radiotherapy.
They pushed for answers on a whole range of aspects from the overall availability of this vital treatment, to the age of radiotherapy equipment, to staff training and the importance of satellite units to allow patients to access treatment closer to home.
NHS England bosses said that there was a case for satellite units and invited business cases to be brought forward to be made for specific sites.
Tim said: “Many experts in the field believe that as many as 24,000 people across the UK may not be getting the radiotherapy they need. And my concern is that many of these may be in areas like ours that are predominantly rural. Based on this 24,000-national figure, as many as 177 people in Cumbria could be missing out.
“Myself and colleagues put the senior NHS managers under a great deal of questioning pressure and it was clear to me that they do not have an accurate picture of how many people are missing out on this vital cancer cure and how severe the situation can be in rural areas.
“Over two sessions we have gathered evidence from doctors, local managers and last night national NHS radiotherapy mangers. We are in the process of putting together a final report based on all the evidence that we have received but it is already clear that much more investment is required in the overall service to meet new targets for early cancer diagnosis and that the needs of rural communities such as ours need to be addressed.
“This inquiry has made the case for a satellite radiotherapy centre in the South Lakes even stronger”.