§ Mr. Wilkinson
To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the future of the Cancer Centre at Mount Vernon Hospital, Northwood. 
§ Ms Blears
The recommendations of the review steering group were made on 29 May 2002 to the Bedfordshire & Hertfordshire Strategic Health Authority in its capacity as host health authority for the Mount Vernon Cancer Network. The health authority will consider the Mount Vernon Long-Term Cancer Review Report in the context of its acute services review which is not yet completed.
The recommendations are:
The review group's recommendation is that a new integrated cancer centre be established on the site of a new hospital in Hertfordshire. This would include the clinical specification set out in the report (pages 27–32) and an ambulatory radiotherapy unit on the Mount Vernon site. The centre should also have a major research and education facility. This is strongly recommended as the preferred option of the review group.1220W
In the interim period before this new hospital is built, it is absolutely essential that there is significant investment on the Mount Vernon site to maintain and develop the excellent services it currently provides. The review group notes that the case for such investment has been accepted by the Bedfordshire & Hertfordshire StHA.
The group accepts that Bedfordshire & Hertfordshire StHA may not be able to commit itself to the creation of a new hospital in Hertfordshire and reluctantly recognises that there has to be a reserve position. In these circumstances it would accept the need for the StHA to consider an integrated cancer centre on either the Watford General, Hemel Hempstead or Queen Elizabeth II DGH sites. This is solely on the condition that the full range of services (pages 27–32) to complement an integrated cancer centre is available on the selected site.
The steering group is unable to recommend development of the future cancer centre on the Mount Vernon site as it is not consistent with the principles underlying the Bedfordshire & Hertfordshire StHA acute services review, nor in line with the cancer and acute service strategies in this part of North West London and runs the risk of destabilising local services. In reaching this recommendation, the group was conscious of the esteem in which Mount Vernon is held and the loyalty of its staff. The group was aware of the impact on research in the interim period.
Staff and press briefings were held on 29 May 2002 with an MP briefing scheduled for 12 June 2002 following the Whitsun recess.