Marching on unified and resolute

According to Napoleon, an army marches on it stomach. Now, I think it marches on its technology.

At this time, we rightly salute the courage and commitment of all healthcare workers across our country as they battle valiantly to deal with coronavirus. We also admire the brilliance of scientists whose inventions and discoveries will surely lead to solutions to overcome this disease.

However, I would like to give a shout out to the technological wizards who are truly keeping everyone’s show on the road. Where would we all be without them?

For those of us working in cancer care, we rely so heavily on technology across our range of treatments from those coming in for exploratory tests to the most advanced proton beam therapy.

I know how much pride all of us working in the Rutherford Cancer Centres take in the fact that, technologically, enables us to have a fully integrated network across the UK. What this means is that someone who is undergoing the ultra-precise proton beam therapy treatment in our Northumberland centre could continue their treatment seamlessly in our Thames Valley or South Wales facilities.

The technology systems are set so a patient’s treatment data and requirements are held centrally across our network so that patient could be treated anywhere at any time. We tested this last year with a complex head & neck patient, it worked well.  This was a world first and we are delighted that our patients can benefit from this.

Of course, this wonderful technology is only as good as the people behind it and those who operate it – all unsung heroes.

For our own patients, this advanced technology has achieved life-changing results. I would like to think that all patients across the UK – wherever they are treated – would also reap the benefits. In many cases they do but I get frustrated when I read reports that cancer patients – who are naturally anxious about their illness – are facing the prospect of delays to their treatment because of the pressure on the NHS as a result of coronavirus pandemic.

I firmly believe that between the NHS and the independent healthcare sector, which is only too willing to help, there is enough capacity to ensure that disruption to cancer treatment is kept to a minimum.

Several oncologists working from Northumberland to Southampton - who also practise in our centres - have written to the government asking it to intervene to ensure there is no disruption to those patients who need proton beam therapy.

They are so right to raise this issue. If we do not utilise capacity across the public and independent healthcare sector to its maximum then we, as a nation, are heading for a potentially scandalous situation further down the road where people who could have and should have been in treatment have lost their lives.

The government is trying to do its best and urged that we are all resolute behind a national effort. Our unified will to succeed is what will ensure we prevail against coronavirus. But pulling together should mean just that.

By Mike Moran, chief executive officer, Rutherford Health.