Thousands more patients stand to benefit from an innovative treatment for brain tumours, after NHS England moved to increase access to specialist stereotactic radiosurgery and radiotherapy across the country.
New contracts for SRS/SRT - specialist forms of radiotherapy that can be used to treat patients with intracranial conditions, such as benign and malignant brain tumours - have been awarded to expand services throughout England, improving access and making it possible to treat more people closer to home.
As a result, NHS England is expecting more than 6,200 patients a year to benefit from these services by 2018/9, compared to just over 2,400 in 2014/15.
SRS/SRT services are delivered by a highly skilled team of neurosurgeons and oncologists, working alongside specialist radiographers, physicists and other professionals as part of multi-disciplinary teams.
Services are delivered using a number of different technologies/platforms, including Gamma Knife, CyberKnife and specially configured linear accelerators. The technology delivers precisely directed beams of radiation to the target site, meaning that there is less of risk of damage to surrounding healthy tissue and thus fewer side effects for patients.
Over the course of the seven year contracts, the increased number of SRS/SRT treatments "will be delivered for significantly less than they would cost at current per-patient prices thanks to efficiencies of around 25%", NHS England said, also noting that increasing access will mean that fewer people will have to undergo more invasive and costly treatments such as surgery.