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An end of treatment bell rung by cancer patients has been removed as it was ‘cruel’ to those still undergoing care

Lizzie Roberts
End of treatment bells are placed on cancer wards for patients to ring when they finish their radiotherapy. - PA

A bell rung by cancer patients celebrating the end of treatment has been removed by a hospital because it was deemed “cruel” to others still undergoing care.

The Lingen Davies Oncology Centre at Royal Shrewsbury Hospital said the bell, which patients rang after they finished radiotherapy, has been taken down as it can be “upsetting” to others.

The practice originated in the US and has become commonplace in UK hospitals, through the work of charities such as End of Treatment Bells who donate them to cancer wards. 

Children with Cancer UK said they were not aware of any other end of treatment bells ever being removed.

Mark Brider, Acting CEO at Children with Cancer UK, said: “A cancer diagnosis for a child can be a frightening experience for the whole family, often filled with regular and long stays in hospital. 

“For many of the families we support the Bell is a symbol of hope and strength, and they choose to ring it to mark the end of months of gruelling treatment.

“Each hospital decides where on their ward or unit to locate the Bell, which is funded by the End of Treatment Bells organisation, and individual families decide if, and when, they want to ring the Bell.”

Shresbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust has launched a consultation with staff and patients to decide whether the bell should be reinstalled. It is understood it could be relocated to a “less public place”. 

A spokesman for the trust said: “Whilst we recognise that some patients want to mark this significant milestone in such a way, we are also aware that other patients who are still receiving treatment can find this upsetting.

"It is important that we listen to our patients. We have therefore decided to ask them for their thoughts and will use their feedback to decide on the best solution going forward."

Jo Taylor, 50, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2007, and has undergone more than 80 rounds of chemotherapy, blogged about the bell ceremonies for the British Medical Journal in June

She said: “For those of us living with recurrent cancer who have little prospect of being cured, hearing this bell being rung is like a kick in the teeth.

"People think it's an encouraging thing to have a bell. I disagree, I think

it's divisive and cruel."