British Hospital Debates Using Human Radiotherapy Unit for Pets

What do you think about this issue as reported in the Telegraph? Hygiene fears over hospital's plan to treat cats and dogs 'By Amy Iggulden...

Joy  |  Nov 1st 2006


Hospital To Treat Pets With Cancer

What do you think about this issue as reported in the Telegraph?

Hygiene fears over hospital’s plan to treat cats and dogs
‘By Amy Iggulden

Plans by a debt-ridden NHS hospital to treat sick cats and dogs to raise money were criticised yesterday as a “hygiene disaster waiting to happen”.

Ipswich Hospital in Suffolk is hoping to reduce a deficit of 24 million by giving radiotherapy to pets.

The hospital expects to make 50,000 a year enough for two nurses from weekend treatment for cats and dogs suffering from cancer.

More than half of cancer patients needing treatment are waiting longer than the recommended four weeks
But Katherine Murphy, of the Patients’ Association, said: “Do we really have to resign ourselves to such desperate measures?

“I hope this idea never gets off the ground. I think it is a disaster waiting to happen.”

Howard Catton, the head of policy at the Royal College of Nursing, said: “It is deeply concerning that a hospital is suggesting very sick animals should be introduced into a clinical human environment.

“There are going to be serious hygiene issues as well as issues of principle. It looks like desperate measures if you are putting pets before people.”

Ipswich Hospital, which is also piloting a scheme to transfer some ear operations to doctors’ surgeries, defended its proposal.

It has already made plans to cut hundreds of jobs, about 70 beds and up to four operating theatres as it tackles its debt.

Jan Rowsell, a spokesman, said: “Our radiotherapy staff wanted to explore whether the equipment could be used to treat pets on a Saturday morning when nobody is using it.”

She added: “Everything will be covered in anti-allergy drapes and hygiene will be of the utmost importance. The radiotherapy room would be thoroughly deep cleaned after each session.”

She said the idea for easing the trust’s cash crisis, one of 700 mooted, would be discussed with patients before a decision is taken.

Andrew Lansley, the shadow health secretary, said: “These are the lengths the NHS is being driven to by the Government’s financial mismanagement.” A spokesman for Unison said the hospital, home to one of the world’s few targeted radiotherapy “linear accelerator” units, should stick to treating humans.

She said: “50,000 is neither here nor there in terms of debt. Why not use the hospital for humans as it is intended?”

But David McDowell, acting chief veterinary adviser to the RSPCA, said: “To make unused medical facilities available to improve animal welfare is an excellent idea as long as the strictest hygiene measures are applied.”

Follow this link to read the rest of the article.