St George’s Hospital has a long history of treating children with cancer – but now, that hangs in the balance.

Under proposals drawn up by NHS England, the service that’s been provided at the hospital for more than 25 years could be closed and moved to another hospital.

Dr Sijo Francis is a Consultant Neonatologist at St George’s and also a clinical lead for children’s services. Through his clinical role, he looks after poorly newborn babies in intensive care and believes moving children’s cancer services away would also have a devastating effect on other services at the hospital.

“The closure means some specialist conditions we look after in our children’s services would no longer be provided and children who use these services will need to have their care provided at centres further away,” he said.

“If the children’s cancer centre was moved from St George’s, a number of our paediatric specialties would, over time, become less viable. This would be through the loss of specialists who want to remain with the cancer care service.”

Last year St George’s – which jointly provides the service with the Royal Marsden – treated 140 children with cancer from south London, Brighton and Hove, East Sussex, Kent and Medway and most of Surrey.

Dr Francis continued: “St Georges has a long history of providing complex care for children with cancer. This isn’t just about our heritage, but about the huge amount of clinical competence our teams have built up over the years.

“There are very complex pathways with the Royal Marsden and other local hospitals, and a lot of professional and personal relationships that ensure children get exceptional care when they need it the most.”

Speaking about his children’s services role, he explained: “I am responsible for ensuring the division is providing high-quality and safe care to our patients.

“I am also accountable for the financial performance of the division and ensuring that our services are sustainable financially.

“I work in a wonderful team who are very caring and supportive, not just to the patients, but also to each other. In my divisional role, I get to learn about many other specialities, not just paediatrics. It is humbling to see some of the exceptional new services and innovations colleagues have made that provide better outcomes for patients.

“I get to meet a lot of people from many different backgrounds. I have always enjoyed working with children. They are just so incredibly resilient and are such a joy to be around.”

St George’s is ready to build a brand-new children’s cancer centre which would boast top medical facilities, state-of-the-art research facilities and recreational, educational and therapeutic spaces.

It will also include dedicated car parking spaces and family accommodation, so families can drive right up to the front door. The location means people don’t need to use public transport or travel into Central London with a poorly child.

The 12-week public consultation into the proposals ends at midnight on Monday December 18. To have your say, visit the NHS England response page.