Emma van Klaveren Finlay and Floriana with dad James and sister Ishbel
September 14, 2023
A family from Wandsworth has added to the calls to retain children's cancer services at St. George's Hospital.
Emma van Klaveren Finlay says accessing local hospital care was vital when her two-year-old daughter Floriana was diagnosed with kidney cancer in March 2020.
She said Floriana received "fantastic" care throughout the pandemic at St George's Hospital and the Royal Marsden and is now in remission.
But she is worried that if Floriana needs further treatment from child cancer specialists local care may not be there. NHS England is proposing the transfer of children's cancer services away from St George's to the Evelina Hospital in central London.
Emma says Floriana needed to attend St George's at least weekly during her care, and travelling to central London would have increased their already high levels of stress.
"Caring for someone with cancer is a 24/7 job and the slightest thing means you have to leg it to the hospital â€“ a raised temperature could mean sepsis.
"You can't easily drive to central London and you can't take an immuno-compromised child on the tube, so it would have really added to the stress and expense. I will be completely devastated if this change goes ahead."
Her concerns have been echoed by another Wandsworth mother who has written to Council leader Simon Hogg to express her concerns at the NHS England proposal.
The mother, who has asked to remain anonymous, wrote: "As a parent of a child who underwent 3.5 years of chemotherapy for leukaemia, please can I ask for your support to keep St George's Hospital open for paediatric oncology (children's cancer) services.
"St George's was where we came for regular chemo, and for any episodes of febrile neutropenia, and when needing blood transfusions.
"It was such a blessing to have this so close, as travelling into town to Evelina would have been very, very difficult. You cannot take neutropenic children on public transport, and so difficult to park - not to mention the long drive. When you have a sick child, you do not want to face any of this."
Recently, Wandsworth Council Leader Simon Hogg, along with Council Leaders from other affected areas across South England, wrote to the Health Secretary expressing concern at the potential transfer of services away from St George's.
Council leader Simon Hogg (second right) visits St George's Hospital
The letter emphasises the 25 years of expertise St George's has in delivering children's cancer care, and the potential impacts on other vital services at the hospital if paediatric cancer care were to be removed.
It also highlighted that families of children with cancer usually prefer to travel to hospital by car rather than public transport, especially if children are on immunosuppressants â€“ meaning that treatment outside of central London is preferable.
Councillor Hogg added: "We will continue to fight to save children's cancer services in our local area. NHS England must ensure its consultation is thorough, fair, and prioritises the voices of families affected by children's cancer.
"If you are a Wandsworth family who is affected by the proposal to move children's cancer services away from St George's, please get in touch with me at email@example.com."
The plans put forward by NHS England will shortly be subject to public consultation having been delayed from earlier this year. The services at St George's support child patients from across South West London, Surrey, Brighton and Hove, East Sussex, Kent and Medway.
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