It’s arrived! I’m delighted that the new LINAC (linear accelerator) radiotherapy machine is now up and running at Cheltenham General Hospital. This machine, costing over £2 million, works by mapping the precise contours of the tumour to ensure that the dose is focused in exactly the right place.
Most of us have a family member or friend whose life have been affected by cancer. This LINAC is probably our most powerful weapon yet in the fight against this cruel disease.
I was grateful to clinicians and therapy radiographers who demonstrated the state-of-the-art machine. Their hard work and expertise are the reasons why cancer outcomes in Gloucestershire are above the national average. Waiting times targets for radiotherapy are also being exceeded, with 98.7% of patients receiving treatment within 31 days of first treatment for cancer.
Having spoken to senior doctors, I think we can go further. They share an exciting vision for Cheltenham’s excellent oncology department to be developed as a centre of excellence for diagnosis and treatment. That could be so positive for Cheltenham, not least as it would enable our town to continue to attract the brightest and the best doctors. The clinicians I met clearly have the enthusiasm and commitment to see this bold ambition through.
On a somewhat lighter note I was interviewed by the BBC’s John Pienaar on 5Live last weekend as part of his “Backbencher of the Week” series. I wonder if I’ll ever face a more challenging question. It went as follows. I’m marooned on a desert island with Theresa May. The producers of Love Island arrive, hand me a palm frond and two hollowed out coconut shells and tell me to entertain the Prime Minister. What do I do?
I won’t divulge my answer for those of you who might want to catch the programme on iplayer. But thank you (I think) for the large number of ‘helpful’ suggestions I received from colleagues and constituents after the show...