Council leaders back Lilac Centre at St Helens hospital to become cancer care hub

Coun Sean Donnelly (Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care), Coun Graham Morgan (Leader of Knowsley Council), Dianne Johnson (fourth left  Chief Officer, Knowsley CCG), Rob Cooper (back row - Director of Operations and Performance) and Pat Gillis (far right - Cancer Services Manager) meet with staff at the Lilac Centre
Coun Sean Donnelly (Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care), Coun Graham Morgan (Leader of Knowsley Council), Dianne Johnson (fourth left Chief Officer, Knowsley CCG), Rob Cooper (back row - Director of Operations and Performance) and Pat Gillis (far right - Cancer Services Manager) meet with staff at the Lilac Centre
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Political leaders from Knowsley Council have backed a specialist centre based at St Helens Hospital to be chosen as a future ‘Hub’ for cancer care in the region.


Knowsley Council Leader Graham Morgan and Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care Coun Sean Donnelly showed their support during a visit to the prestigious Lilac Centre for Cancer Care, which provides high quality services and support to the borough’s residents who have been diagnosed with cancer.

The Lilac Centre achieved the MacMillan Cancer Support Quality Environment Mark Award in 2010, 2014 and 2017 – the first chemotherapy unit nationally to receive this prestigious award aiming to improve the wellbeing of people living with cancer.

Their last Care Quality Commission (CQC) rating was outstanding, recognising the high-quality services, management and support offered at the centre and the Trust was named the best acute trust in the NHS in the Patient Led Assessments on the Care Environment in 2017 and 2018.

Cancer care in the region is currently undergoing a review, led by the local NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups. The provision of cancer care in Halton, Knowsley, St Helens and Warrington (known as the Eastern Sector) is part of the review.

Residents in these areas have access to the Clatterbridge Centre (ranked as one of the best in the country), based in Wirral with a satellite radiotherapy treatment centre in Aintree.

Proposals in the review include a new state-of-the-art cancer centre being built in Liverpool which will be open in 2020 for inpatient care. Outpatient care will be delivered in local hubs and it is proposed that four local hubs will service the region (one in the North, South, Central and Eastern sectors).

The location for the Eastern Hub is still to be determined, but it is likely to be either the facility based at St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust or Warrington and Halton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Proposals are currently being developed and will then be subject to a public consultation commencing in the spring 2019.

Coun Donnelly said “We are delighted to have such renowned and valued facilities on our doorstep, accessible to our residents.

"As well as providing medical treatment, the Lilac Centre also offers counselling services and complementary therapies and it was a pleasure to meet with some of our residents who are receiving these fantastic services today. It is abundantly clear that the services provided here are not only first class but also very much valued by patients and their families.”

Last year, the centre celebrated its 25 year anniversary and over the years, the number of people receiving their help and support has increased from between 25-30 per week in 1992 to over 250 today. Survival rates are also increasing too, doubling in the last 40 years with around half of patients now surviving the disease for more than ten years. It’s even more prevalent that the right support is in place locally to help those to live well following a cancer diagnosis.

During the visit, Rob Cooper, Director of Operations, explained to Coun Morgan and Coun Donnelly the diverse services offered, number of patients who pass through the centre, how effective early diagnosis and treatment can be, as well as opportunities to meet with staff and patients.