Cancer patients in Buckinghamshire will be able to receive treatment at local “community hubs” rather than travel to Wycombe or Stoke Mandeville hospitals, following a controversial pilot scheme.

Health bosses say cancer patients will be able to have treatment closer to home, without worrying about expensive parking fees or travelling long distances, after the first clinic opened at the Thame Community Hub, at Thame Hospital, on Wednesday.

The NHS community hub pilot was launched at Marlow Community Hospital in August 2017, which led to the loss of inpatient beds, sparking concern among campaigners and residents.

The aim of the pilot was to “bring care closer to people’s homes”, introducing new services to the hospital – such as outpatient clinics, orthopaedics, general surgery and chemotherapy.

The scheme is now being rolled out across the county, including Amersham Hospital, following a £350,000 donation from charity Macmillan Cancer Support.

John Willis, who is receiving treatment for bowel cancer at the hub, said: “This is wonderful because I’m just down the road and it can cost me up to £9.00 for parking at Stoke Mandeville.

“I can have my blood taken at the GP surgery next to Thame Hospital on the Monday and then come here on the Wednesday.

“I have to go to a variety of sites for treatment and scans and this is much easier.”

Amersham hospital is expected to join Thame and Marlow in June this year as a community cancer treatment site.

Chief executive at Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, Neil Macdonald, said: “This partnership with Macmillan is great news for people with cancer in Buckinghamshire, who will be able to get the same expert care from our nursing teams, but in a hospital closer to their home.”

“Our clinical staff will be carefully managing the whole process so that patients will only be relocated to the community sites when we’re sure it’s safe to do so.”

Providing cancer treatment at the hubs is expected to alleviate demand on the units at Wycombe and Stoke Mandeville hospitals.

Initially, oral treatment and under the skin injections, as well as catheter line care and pre-treatment assessments will take place at the community hubs.

Macmillan partnership manager in Bucks, Shelley Orton, said: “Travelling long distances for cancer treatment can be stressful.

“Paying for fuel and parking, getting stuck in traffic on the way to appointments and having to regularly visit large hospitals all add to the worry and anxiety, when you should be able to just focus on getting better.

“That’s why Macmillan has invested £350,000 with Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust to fund four staff members for two years so they can get this project going.”