CALLS have been made to protect vital services for cancer patients.
The East Midland Cancer Network (EMCN), which supports cancer patients in Burton, South Derbyshire and North West Leicestershire, will close by March 31 as part of NHS reforms.
Instead, patients will get care from the Midlands and East NHS Commissioning Board which will deliver care through strategic clinical networks.
Jon Wheale, Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Burton, said steps must be taken to ensure the quality of patient care is maintained under the new system.
He said: “Doctors, nurses and other experts brought together by the East Midlands Cancer Network have played an absolutely crucial role in improving the quality of cancer care in this region.
“I feel very strongly that we need to do all we can to ensure these services are protected.”
The EMCN, which provides specialist training for NHS care staff and support to patients has also had its workforce cut by 56 per cent from 54 members in 2009 to just 24 in 2013.
It is believed only four members of staff will be kept on in the new system.
Mr Wheale added: “Ministers have repeatedly promised to protect cancer networks.
“Yet we now know Cancer Network staff in the East Midlands have already been cut by more than 50% under this Government, and the Network as a whole will cease to exist from 1st April this year.
A spokesman from NHS Leicester City, where the EMCN is based, said: “It is difficult to say how front line care will change because the new structure is not established yet.
“The new system is designed to improve the delivery of services and will be an improvement but there will be fewer staff.”