By World Healthcare Journal-
Over the past few years, the UK has made significant strides in the adoption and implementation of innovative cancer treatments, placing it right at the forefront of personalised and advanced cancer care globally. This is in large part thanks to the introduction of revolutionary proton beam therapy to the UK in 2018, transforming cancer care in the UK and fuelling strong demand for personalised oncology care and precision radiotherapy.
At the vanguard of this revolution is Rutherford Cancer Centres, a UK healthcare provider that has established three advanced cancer care centres under the Rutherford Cancer Centres brand, with a fourth due to be handed over in January 2020. The company is recognised as the world’s leading developer of proton beam therapy services.
Mike Moran has been CEO of Rutherford Health PLC since 2015 and has overseen the rapid expansion of the company vision. Here he speaks to WHJ about the continued development and successes of proton beam therapy and the Rutherford cancer centres across the UK.
“We are assisting other countries to develop their cancer services and are actively looking at ways to facilitate cancer patients in other parts of the world to access this treatment” - Mike Moran, CEO, Rutherford Health PLC
Following the recent expansion and successes of Rutherford Cancer Centres, what are the next steps?
Over the past two years, we have played a pivotal role in transforming the face of cancer care in the UK. In 2018 proton beam therapy was not available in the UK, and now we have three fully operational centres that provide the treatment, with a fourth opening in 2020. As a company, we are just four years old and we are seeing years of hard work coming to fruition. There is still a tremendous amount of work going on behind the scenes that will push UK cancer care to new heights - we hope this is just the beginning.
We are also looking to broaden our horizon globally. We recognise that as the world’s leading developer of proton therapy services we have a lot more to give. We are assisting other countries to develop their cancer services and are actively looking at ways to facilitate cancer patients in other parts of the world to access this treatment.
We have started treating international patients with proton beam therapy at the Rutherford Cancer Centre Thames Valley in Reading, just 25 minutes from central London, and we also enjoy a presence in London’s famous Harley Street with our consulting rooms at the Phoenix Hospital Group. This will enable our international patients to undergo all their initial consultations in central London before commencing their treatment. We hope that by expanding access to international patients, our success in the UK will translate as a triumph for cancer care globally.
How much progress has been made towards achieving the goal of putting cancer centres within 90 minutes of 75 per cent of the population?
We already have the capacity to treat 1,500 patients with proton beam therapy which will rise to 2,000 when the fourth centre in Liverpool is completed.
This is a remarkable turnaround for the UK. It has transitioned from being a country that lagged behind every other advanced country in the world when it came to the provision of precision radiotherapy to one that is now at the very forefront, thanks to the efforts of Rutherford Health plc. But we are not resting on our laurels and we remain committed to ensuring that 75 per cent of the population can access proton beam therapy within a 90-minute drive. We continue to seek opportunities for new centres across the UK to widen access to precision radiotherapy and specifically proton beam therapy.
In the meantime, however, we have significantly enhanced the accessibility and flexibility of our existing centres by incorporating a centrally networked oncology management system which enables patients to access our network at any point, and even transfer centres if necessary.
How is the project to bring proton beam therapy to the North West progressing?
Work on the project began in 2018 and it is on course to open in early 2020. We are able to build a brand-new Rutherford centre in under two years which has been demonstrated with the North East and Thames Valley centres. The North West centre will be a crucial development for cancer care in the region and its location in the heart of Liverpool, in the Knowledge Quarter of Paddington Village where it is situated a stone’s throw away from the Royal College of Physicians and Rutherford Diagnostics, will cement Liverpool’s reputation as a fast-emerging global life sciences hub.
How are patients responding to proton beam therapy?
We have seen excellent results in patients who are receiving proton beam therapy. At the Rutherford Cancer Centres, we maintain a strict double planning process, which ascertains whether a patient is suited for proton beam therapy over conventional treatments, and the final decision is made by independent experts. This means that the patients we treat are ideally suited to benefit from proton beam therapy.
Feedback has been very positive from those patients who have benefitted from proton beam therapy. Understandably, not all patients want to reveal the outcomes of their treatments, but others have gone on record to extoll the benefits of the treatment and have shared their stories publicly.
One of our first proton beam therapy patients, Timon Colegrove, was quoted in the British press just after his treatment, saying: “I was very fortunate to receive proton beam therapy and I am a firm advocate of greater availability of this pioneering form of cancer care. ”
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