Junior doctors win extra time to raise funds to continue High Court bid to block Jeremy Hunt’s imposition of new contracts


2pm update: the High Court has granted an extension to allow Justice for Health campaigners to raise £130,000 to allow their judicial review claim against imposition of the junior doctor contracts to proceed. 

They have until mid-August to raise the sum – reduced from the £150,000 sought by the Department of Health. Mr Justice Green said there were matters of public interest that deserved to be considered by the court. 

More than £60,000 has already been pledged (7pm update: £90,000) since an emergency appeal was launched last night. To donate, click here: https://www.crowdjustice.co.uk/case/nhs/

It is unclear when a full hearing will take place – and whether this could delay the start of phased imposition of the new contracts from October 1. It is hoped that time for a three-day hearing can be found in September. 

Second update: the case was raised in Parliament today by the newly-elected Labour MP for Tooting and former junior doctor Dr Rosena Allin-Khan: 

 Initial report from this morning: Junior doctors were today fearing defeat in a High Court bid to block Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt from imposing new contracts to create a so-called “seven-day NHS”. 

They were “devastated” after an 11th-hour manoeuvre from the Department of Health meant they had to raise an extra £150,000 to cover court costs in the event of their defeat.

The Justice for Health group of five junior medics had already raised more than £180,000 from crowdfunding to bring judicial review proceedings, challenging the alleged “illegal” imposition of the “unsafe” changes to their working hours.


The wider dispute has seen junior doctors hold the first all-out strike in NHS history. Earlier this month, in a bid to end the deadlock after three years of negotiations with the British Medical Association, Mr Hunt said he would introduce the new working arrangements on a phased basis from October.

The junior doctors said: “We were devastated to hear just 24 hours before our case management hearing, that the Secretary of State has now demanded Justice For Health raise a total of £150,000 as security for costs in order to proceed with our case.  

“This is a staggering amount of money and we feel it is an underhand tactic to silence junior doctors and prevent us from raising our legitimate concerns in holding Mr Hunt to account.”

About £40,000 had been raised overnight but the case was not expected to receive permission to proceed to a full hearing when it opened this morning. 

Lead campaigner Dr Ben White said there remained a “mood of defiance” among the country’s 53,000 junior doctors. He told the Standard: “This is not about increasing doctors’ pay. It’s about putting on the right number of staff and having the right number of hospital beds.

“The Department of Health has improved things slightly, from a terrible contract to a not very good contract. But they are not being honest with the public about the fact that the NHS is stretched already and we cannot stretch it any further.”

A separate application from the BMA, challenging the Government’s failure to carry out an equalities review of the proposed changes, was also due to be dropped.

A&E crisis hospital: Dead patient lay undiscovered for up to 4.5 hours, another died on day of staff shortages

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One patient lay dead for up to four-and-a-half hours before being discovered while another died unexpectedly because of staff shortages at one of London’s busiest A&Es.

A report into the crisis-hit North Middlesex hospital today revealed further details about failures in care that has resulted in its urgent and emergency services being declared “inadequate”.

The hospital, in Edmonton, revealed chief executive Julie Lowe was “on leave”. It is understood she will not be returning to her £160,000-a-year post.

The Care Quality Commission, whose inspectors returned to North Middlesex in May and June after concerns were sparked about a number of serious incidents, was told that an internal investigation had found that the failure of doctors to undertake hourly rounds “meant that a patient had lain dead for up to four-and-a-half hours before being found”.

In another case, an investigation into an unexpected death found that the A&E department was “two to three nurses and one middle grade doctor short on the day in question”.

Today’s report makes clear that the December 2013 closure of the A&E department at Chase Farm hospital, Enfield, had a “significant impact on the demand for services at North Middlesex”, with about 500 A&E attendances a day.

It said there were “excessive” delays in patients seeing a doctor, other departments were “not supportive” of emergency staff and there was an “overbearing” trust management.

The CQC said the hospital had “turned a corner” since a visit in April but warned further improvements were needed by August 26. Another inspection will take place in September.

North Middlesex medical director Dr Cathy Cale said: “We are extremely sorry for the current problems in A&E and for the long waiting times for some patients. We are committed to getting back to the standards that we and our patients expect.”
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Psoriasis campaigner’s anger at being questioned about her skin condition before being allowed to board easyJet flight

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Holly Dillon 3

A health campaigner who suffers from a chronic skin condition today told of her anger after being questioned before being allowed to board an easyJet flight.

Holly Dillon, 26, from Peckham, was returning from a short break in Faro last night when the check-in attendant raised “health and safety concerns” before letting her onto the Luton airport-bound flight.

Miss Dillon, who launched the #GetYourSkinOut online campaign to “empower” other sufferers of the non-infectious condition and challenge misconceptions, had gone to Portugal to enable the sun’s rays help to reduce her psoriasis.

The assistant film director told the Standard: “I’ve just been stopped in Portugal checking in to the easyJet flight from Faro back to London before boarding the plane. The boarding desk clerk just stopped and indirectly asked my friend, not me, whether I had a problem with my face or skin.

“Wearing no make-up coming back from holiday – the one thing that helps my skin – I felt great, and my psoriasis has completely gone down, and he actually stopped me.

“I said: ‘Excuse me, you should be asking me directly if you think there is something wrong.’ He said it’s a health and safety procedure. It’s yet another example of the lack of awareness of psoriasis and the overall appalling easyJet service. It was completely unacceptable, rude and unprofessional.”

Jon Bernthal and Holly Dilon

Ms Dillon, who has worked on films with Brad Pitt and Jon Bernthal (above), gathered almost 1,500 Instagram followers in a matter of months after launching #GetYourSkinOut.

She enlisted professional photographer Lewis Khan to take pictures as she underwent PUVA treatment at Chelsea and Westminster hospital, where she bathes in lotion before undergoing light therapy three times a week during flare-ups.

Holly Dillon 1

She said: “I did that for two reasons: I wanted to show the effect the treatment was having on psoriasis, and to show psoriasis in a positive light. We got a series of photographs that show it as an art form, rather than images showing it as red and itchy, even though it is red and itchy.”

Psoriasis affects about 1.8 million people in the UK, and most often develops in adults under 35. It can massively affect quality of life and has been linked to 300 suicides a year. Sufferers are at increased risk of diabetes, stroke, heart disease and arthritis.

Psoriasis is caused when skin cells regenerate too quickly, probably due to a problem with the immune system. Celebrity sufferers include Cara Delevingne and Kim Kardashian.

Holly Dillon 2

Ms Dillon has worked on Les Miserables and alongside Pitt on Fury and Bernthal on Fast & Furious 6. She had her first flare-up at 14 and was diagnosed with guttate psoriasis, which causes small sores to develop all over her body, four years later.

Her latest flare-up was sparked by a bout of tonsilitis. The condition can make holding down a job difficult due to the debilitating nature of the attacks and the time-off required for treatment. “In the last 18 months I have had treatment for six months of that,” she said.

Her campaign has sparked a flood of responses from others with psoriasis. “The thing with psoriasis is because it doesn’t have a death sentence at the end, it’s disregarded by the public,” she said. “But it is chronic. It has a huge impact on people’s lives, on their wellbeing and happiness.

“There are plenty of clinical articles online but I wanted to speak to someone who wasn’t a healthcare professional, to rant, cry and laugh. It’s about giving a platform and a voice to everyone with psoriasis. Get Your Skin Out isn’t just about psoriasis, it’s about being proud of who you are and about body image as a whole.”

Dr Anthony Bewley, consultant dermatologist at Whipps Cross Hospital and The Royal London Hospital, said: “The Get Your Skin Out campaign is brilliant because it is so positive and affirmative about living with a chronic skin condition like psoriasis.

“All too often people feel ashamed and disempowered when living with skin disease, but Holly’s message is: get in control of your skin, get advice about how to get it better, get your skin out and shine. It’s a great message and long overdue.”

An easyJet spokesman said: “easyJet is sorry to hear of Ms Dillon’s experience whilst boarding flight EZY2020 from Faro to Luton on Sunday 19 June 2016.

“As soon as we were made aware this morning, we started an investigation. All of our staff are carefully selected and undergo training to maintain our high level of customer care which may not have been upheld in this occasion. We will be addressing this with the ground staff member involved as we always have high standards to maintain. Our customer team are contacting Ms Dillon to discuss this with her directly.”

Remarkable turnaround for surgeon who fought to keep NHS job: praised by Health Secretary as he receives Légion d’honneur

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Professor Nadey Hakim with Jeremy Hunt

Jeremy Hunt with Professor Nadey Hakim and French ambassador Sylvie Bermann

A world-renowned transplant surgeon who had to fight for two years to win back his NHS job has been praised by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

Professor Nadey Hakim was reinstated by Imperial College Healthcare NHS trust in April after a tribunal ruled he had been unfairly dismissed following a row about him operating on two private patients and an NHS patient on the same day in 2013.

In a remarkable reversal of fortunes, Mr Hunt agreed to attend a VIP ceremony on Wednesday evening at which Professor Hakim received a Légion d’honneur medal from the French government for his medical work.

Nadey and Jeremy Hunt

Jeremy Hunt congratulates Professor Hakim on his award

Mr Hunt told the Standard: “Professor Hakim has made an enormous contribution to surgery here in the UK and in France. It is wonderful to see that recognised.”

At the ceremony at the French embassy in Kensington, ambassador Sylvie Bermann said Professor Hakim’s career had been “exceptional”. She said: “Your contribution to research and your experience in pancreas transplants has led to very many lives being saved around the world.”

She said Professor Hakim, who trained at Guy’s hospital and in France and the US, saw his career take off when he performed London’s first pancreatic transfer in 1995. “Since then, you have performed more than 2,000 transplants in a 30-year career, and we are still counting,” she said.

“You represented Britain in the international team of 18 surgeons who performed the world’s first double hand and forearm transplant in 2000 on a Frenchman who lost his hands in a fireworks accident.

“It’s said that your work at Imperial College Healthcare trust has raised more than £3.5 million in research donations for the NHS. It is not every day that a Cabinet minister attends an award ceremony at the French residence. I think it’s an important symbol of your contribution to the British health sector.”

Nadey and ambassador

Professor Hakim and Ambassador Bermann

Professor Hakim, 57, a father of four from Cricklewood who works at Hammersmith hospital, said: “I am very grateful to the French government for having bestowed on me this great honour.

“I would not have deserved this honour without the support of my family, colleagues and for the surgical training I have been offered in the UK, allowing me to pursue a career in surgery. Vive Le Royaume-Uni, Vive La France! (Long live the UK, long live France).”

Professor Hakim was suspended in 2014 and dismissed for gross misconduct in February last year for delaying his involvement in a kidney and pancreas transplant at Hammersmith hospital, to enable him to first transplant a kidney between two foreign brothers at Bupa’s Cromwell hospital.

However all three patients suffered no complications and a tribunal judge ordered Imperial to reinstate Professor Hakim and pay him £100,000 compensation. At the time, Professor Hakim described the period as “two annus horribilis”.

Smartphone app ‘nudges’ liver patients away from drinking dens and off-licences

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A Startphone app that “nudges” patients with alcohol-related liver disease away from their favourite drinking dens and off-licences is being trialled by a London hospital.

Sixty patients whose problem drinking has resulted in them being admitted to a ward at the Royal Free hospital, Hampstead, will be enrolled on the scheme.

The AlcoChange app uses GPS technology to send alerts if a patient is in the vicinity of a regular drinking area or shop selling alcohol. It can also measure intoxication levels when the patient blows into a breathalyser plugged into the phone’s headphone socket.

Dr Gautam Mehta, honorary consultant at the Royal Free and senior lecturer at UCL, said patients often needed help to prevent them returning to the bottle.

More than one in thee adults in the UK drinks to harmful levels, and 600 people a year with alcohol-related liver disease are admitted to the Royal Free. Across the north-central London NHS area that includes the Royal Free, 210 hospital beds are occupied 365 days a year by such patients.

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Dr Gautam Mehta with the AlcoChange app

Dr Mehta told the Standard: “These people tend to come back into hospital. Forty-four per cent are re-admitted within 12 months. If they carry on drinking, 50 per cent will be dead within three years. But if they stop drinking, more than 80 per cent are alive after 10 years.

“It’s a massively reversible condition. Even with cirrhosis, the risk of death can be decreased by stopping drinking. If there is a risk of alcohol-related harm, the app sends messages to the user at vulnerable times. It gives them constructive feedback.”

The app “nudges” or diverts patients away from risky locations, and suggests they make contact with alcohol liaison staff if their drinking is measured to be at danger levels. It sends alerts to NHS staff if a patient stops engaging with the app.

Crucially, it can also “reward” patients who have managed to stay sober by recording the length of their periods of abstinence, and indicate the amount of money and number of calories saved in the process. It compares their drinking levels in the three months before and after medical intervention, and enables patients to record their feelings if they hit “rock bottom”.

“A lot of people never had the chance to demonstrate abstinence before,” Dr Mehta said. “This gives them a way of doing that.

“Most people who have been admitted [to hospital] want to stop drinking. This won’t help someone who doesn’t want to cut back. But if you want to cut back, this can help.

“It can divert them to replacement activity to take the place of alcohol-related activities The number of people this could be relevant to is very large.”

London nurses give up holidays to join Ethiopa mercy mission

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Catherine Collins with two young patients

Eleven London nurses are giving up their holidays to help perform life-changing facial surgery in Ethiopia.

They will spend a fortnight as part of a 25-strong medical team dispatched by the charity Project Harar to operate on 50 children and adults with major disfigurements.

The nurses, who work at Guy’s and St Thomas’s NHS trust and Great Ormond Street hospital, will head to Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa from next week [June 10].

Harar Claire Murray, Fran Choudhry, Catherine Collins, Lizzie Hunt, Paula Griffith

From left: Claire Murray, Fran Choudhry, Catherine Collins, Lizzie Hunt, Paula Griffith

Lead nurse Catherine Collins, 31, who has been on three surgical missions run by Project Harar, said: “It’s two weeks of pure adrenalin. You get very little sleep, it’s stressful, and you spend a lot of hours working. And you come back to London and everyone says: ‘How was your holiday?’”

The team, led by Professor Mark McGurk, maxillofacial surgeon at Guy’s Hospital, tackle conditions such as noma (a facial gangrene), huge tumours, animal attack injuries, burns and gunshot wounds.

The surgery changes and saves lives in a country where such conditions are regarded as “acts of God” and sufferers are ostracised. Children are able to return to school and finally make friends. Adults have found jobs and got married.

Harar Catherine Collins

Catherine Collins and a young patient

Project Harar, based in Highgate, has treated more than 5,000 patients since it launched in 2001. It hopes to set a new record by treating 1,000 patients this year. Patients will often return for further surgery.

Ms Collins, who works at Guy’s and St Thomas’, said: “A few times we’ve had the same patient come back a year later for further revision surgery which is lovely – they look incredible.”

Harar Fran Choudhry with girl post-op

Fran Choudhry with a girl post-operation

Nurse Johanna Cade, 29, who is making her second trip, said: “We work closely with the Ethiopian nurses, teaching them things like tube feeding. It makes it sustainable so when we go, they can still carry on the good work. We’re not just going in, taking over and shooting off.”

One of her favourite moments was with a four year-old girl called Nado, who “showed no emotion” when they first met. “She couldn’t smile and she couldn’t cry,” Ms Cade said. “I just thought she must be in so much pain.

“I made it my absolute mission to make that girl smile by the end of the week. So I buddied up with her and played with her all the time. And just before we left I got her to smile. We had some balloons and bubbles. I’ll never forget it – it was the cutest little thing.”

Harar Fran Choudhry

Fran Choudhry with a young patient

Ethiopia has been blighted by drought, war and famine in recent years and has a life expectancy 20 years lower than in the UK.

Victoria Clare, director of Project Harar, said: “It’s wonderful to know that our great junior doctors, nurses and surgeons will be providing training to improve care in the hospitals once we leave. Without this vital training our work wouldn’t be able to go so far.”

Jonathan Crown, founder of the charity, said: “The transformation of these brave patients is profound. We know from our research that our patients are allowed back into school, to have friends and family and to have a life. Most of them are able to reintegrate into society.
“I have pictures now of people getting married – which they probably wouldn’t have been able to without the surgery. Going back and seeing them is fantastic.”

Harar Sarah Elliott Catherine Collins, Fran Choudhry, on the 2015 complex mission to Ethiopia

Sarah Elliott, Catherine Collins, Fran Choudhry

Harar Team shot

Project Harar in Ethiopia

To donate to the mission, visit: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/surgicalmission

NHS first as surgeons use 3D-printed replica to help remove cancerous prostate

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Surgeons have become the first in the NHS to use a 3D-printed copy of a patient’s prostate to help them remove the cancerous gland.

They held the replica prostate in their hands as they used a £2 million robot to cut it free, ensuring they excised all the tumour but minimised the risk of causing impotence and incontinence.

The pioneering procedure is the latest to be performed at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS trust using 3D printing. Last November, another team of doctors relied on the technique to transplant the kidney of a father into his sick three-year-old daughter.

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Professor Dasgupta in theatre at Guy’s hospital, holding the 3D print of his patient’s cancerous prostate gland. Picture by Mark Hakansson

Professor Prokar Dasgupta, who performed the prostate operation at Guy’s hospital in London Bridge, said it had the potential to revolutionise prostate removal.

The hospital performs about 300 such operations a year with its da Vinci X1 robots. While this avoids the need for “open” surgery it means that surgeons lose their sense of touch.

Profesor Dasgupta said the plastic replica was “very realistic” and “remarkably accurate”. He told the Standard: “This retains the sense of touch. I can ‘feel’ the tumour without putting my hand inside the patient.”

He added: “How about having the patient’s prostate in my hand, before it has been removed? On the front of it, everything looks OK. But when you look at the back, there is a very big tumour. This tumour is also very close to the muscle that keeps the man dry [the sphincter], so I know exactly where to cut.

“It shows you the power of MRI, it shows you the power of this software, it shows you the power of 3D printing. If it proves to be as useful as it seems at face value, I think it has a great future.”

Professor Dasgupta with removed prostate and 3D model

“Remarkably accurate”: Professor Dasgupta compares the removed prostate to the 3D replica. Picture by Mark Hakansson

The replica was created in a laboratory at St Thomas’s hospital and relied upon measurements of the prostate from an MRI scan. It took 12 hours to produce the model, at a cost of about £150 to £200.

The model highlighted that the patient’s prostate was smooth on one side, helping Professor Dasgupta to spare one of the nerve bundles. “These bundles are important to the patient,” he said. “They go to the penis and help with the recovery of erections.

“Using this 3D model, we can plan surgery better, we can counsel the patient better and we hope to be able to remove the cancer successfully. This would hopefully allow me to do a finer operation than not having this. If I didn’t have this, there would be an element of guesswork.”

The patient, a 65-year-old GP who asked not to be named, had no symptoms and only discovered he had a large tumour on his prostate when he underwent a CT scan in India.

“He had absolutely no idea this thing was growing inside him,” Professor Dasgupta said.

Fellow surgeon Ben Challacombe said: “This man has high competing needs. He wants to be fully continent and potent but there’s no point in doing the operation if we can’t get the cancer out.”

See here as Mr Challacombe uses the robot to remove a patient’s cancerous kidney.

Bariatric surgery hailed as biggest potential breakthrough in diabetes care since insulin

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Doctors today called for surgery to become a standard treatment for diabetes in what was hailed as the biggest global advance since the discovery of insulin a century ago.

The demand from experts in the UK, USA, China and India came after clinical trials found that gastric-bypass surgery put type-2 diabetes into remission for at least five years in half of patients.

They said surgery was a life-saving option for patients unable to control their diabetes through diet and medication and could help to reduce the £10 billion annual cost to the NHS – a tenth of its total budget – of managing the obesity-fuelled epidemic.

Professor Francesco Rubino, of King’s College London, who led the research, told the Standard: “Surgery introduces a new type of outcome that was not even considered possible in diabetes before.

“With surgery, for the first time at least some patients can experience and enjoy remission of the disease that can last quite long. This is probably the most radical change ever since the discovery of insulin.

“The evidence is now robust that says this should be offered to patients. It doesn’t mean a cure for diabetes for everybody but it does show very clearly that diabetes is not invincible.”

Gastric-bypass surgery, which removes part of the stomach or re-routes the small intestine, is already offered as a treatment for obesity. Today’s call would designate bariatric surgery as a treatment option for diabetes.

It would be considered for type-2 diabetics with a BMI (body mass index) of 40 and above (morbidly obese), regardless of their blood glucose control, and those with a BMI of 30 and above (obese) whose blood glucose levels are inadequately controlled by lifestyle and medication. Thresholds for Asian people with type-2 diabetes would be lower as they develop diabetes at lower BMI rates.

Simon O’Neill, of charity Diabetes UK, said: “We strongly support the call for obesity surgery to be fully recognised as an active treatment option for type-2 diabetes alongside established forms of type-2 diabetes treatments, such as lifestyle changes, and blood glucose lowering medications.”

The Diabetes UK news release is here.

Professor Rubino, also a consultant surgeon at King’s College Hospital, said 11 clinical trials had shown that the role of the gut was key to finding a cure for diabetes. Many of the patients on trials had seen their blood glucose levels fall so low that they no longer required medication.

He said: “I think this will create fresh impetus to the search for a cure for diabetes. In the 20th century we have always been saying we can live with diabetes. In the 21st century, as we face an epidemic of diabetes, we have to find a solution. We have to prevent it. We have to treat it and potentially cure it. What surgery offers is an insight into potentially vulnerable targets to address diabetes.”

The joint statement, from Diabetes UK, the American Diabetes Association, International Diabetes Federation, Chinese Diabetes Society, and Diabetes India, was published today in the journal Diabetes Care. Professor Rubino has written an accompanying article in Nature.

New fast-response cars for Dame Helen Mirren’s London volunteer lifesavers

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Freemasons LAS fast response cars

London Ambulance Service hopes a donation of five new fast-response cars will help it to recruit 30 more volunteer medics able to respond to life-saving emergencies.

A charity set up by actress Dame Helen Mirren four years ago has seen 145 people with medical training sign up as voluntary responders, rushing to patients suffering heart attack or cardiac arrest at the same time as frontline LAS crews.

They will be given use of the fully equipped blue-light Volkswagen Tiguan vehicles, which have been donated to LAS by the London Freemasons. The volunteers provide about 900 hours of cover a month and attend serious medical and trauma calls.

The vehicles will be based in Croydon, Ilford, Hillingdon, Isleworth and Friern Barnet.

LAS chief executive Dr Fionna Moore said: “The donation is a tremendous gesture of support to the work of the London Ambulance Service.

“The vehicles are a welcome addition to our current fleet. They will help our highly dedicated emergency response staff to deliver first class emergency assistance to the people of London.”

The Freemasons’ metropolitan grand master, Sir Michael Snyder, said: “The donation of these five rapid response ambulance cars is another fine example of London Freemasons’ care and support for the London community.”

By royal appointment! Duke of Cambridge turns VIP photographer during visit to Royal Marsden hospital

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Prince Wiliam turns cameraman at Royal Marsden

The Duke of Cambridge was called into action  as an amateur photographer during a visit to the Royal Marsden hospital today.

Prince William, the Marsden’s president, was asked by a patient to take a picture on her phone of her meeting fashion designer Ralph Lauren. William and Mr Lauren were opening the Ralph Lauren Centre for Breast Cancer Research.

The Marsden is on the verge of a ground-breaking advance by using DNA tests to determine whether breast cancer patients can be treated without chemotherapy.

Trials have shown that the blood tests – dubbed “liquid biopsies” – have reduced by a quarter the number of women requiring chemotherapy after having a tumour removed surgically.

The project, which could be more widely introduced within three years, is among several being pioneered at the Royal Marsden hospital that the Duke of Cambridge was being told about today as he opened the £4 million research centre on its Chelsea site.

Experts compared the breakthrough to the use of the PSA test for prostate cancer, which measures the level of protein in blood, and hoped it would eventually be able to detect breast cancer in undiagnosed patients.

Professor Mitch Dowsett, head of the centre, which sees about 1,000 patients a year, said between 50 to 100 patients with early breast cancer had already benefited. “I think it could radically change the management of patients if it all comes good,” he said.

The DNA test searches for “circulating tumours” in the blood and provides an “early warning” of whether the cancer, which would be undetectable on hospital scans, is still present after surgery, has returned or the patient is at risk of relapse.

The treatment is relevant for the 80 per cent of patients who have oestrogen receptor (ER)-positive breast cancer and gives clinicians greater certainty in recommending hormone therapy rather than chemotherapy, especially in those “intermediate” cases where the choice is not obvious.

“They go forward with the hormonal treatment without having the deleterious effects of chemotherapy – the hair loss, the nausea,” Professor Dowsett said.

Breast cancer is the UK’s most common cancer and kills more than 10,000 people a year. The number diagnosed has increased from 25,000 a year in 1988 to 53,000 in 2014. This is largely due to screening, and a growing and ageing population, but women having children later in life is also a factor.

Professor Dowsett decided to focus on the area after learning of concerns among doctors that research was failing to identify cancer patients who could safely avoid chemotherapy.
“Clinicians realised they were over-treating a number of patients unnecessarily. There is a cost issue, there is a time issue and, in particular, there is a patient toxicity and tolerability issue.

“Introducing these tests has reduced the use of chemotherapy in this particular centre by 25 per cent. It’s saved the hospital £100,000 to £125,000 a year on drugs.”

The Marsden’s research underlines the importance of aromatase inhibitors in the treatment of (ER)-positive breast cancer in post-menopausal women where they reduce risk of death from breast cancer by 40 per cent, 10 points more than the older hormonal treatment Tamoxifen.

William said as he unveiled a plaque to mark the centre’s opening: “I’m delighted to be back here at The Royal Marsden – it is always a place which gives me so much hope and inspiration, and a place which clearly means so much to so many people.

“I am unbelievably proud to be President of The Royal Marsden – every time I visit I see groundbreaking work carried out with extraordinary professionalism and compassion.

“Seeing the courage and spirit of the patients I met today, it would be hard not to feel positive about the work being done here, and the real difference it makes. A difference which I know extends beyond the four walls of this hospital, to cancer patients across the U.K. and internationally.

“So much of the work at The Royal Marsden would not be possible without the support of The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity and people like Ralph Lauren and Don McCarthy whose generosity has enabled the creation of these wonderful facilities.

“Speaking to the clinicians and researchers earlier this morning, I’m confident the Ralph Lauren Centre for Breast Cancer Research will set a new benchmark for breast cancer research. Their work is already having an extraordinary impact and the patients I met today are testament to that.

“The Centre will be a wonderful addition to this world-leading hospital, enabling The Royal Marsden to continue its pioneering work, so it gives me great pleasure to declare the Ralph Lauren Centre for Breast Cancer Research officially open.”

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