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Cancer centre goal
IT’S AN ambitious project – but it’s one that will make a massive difference to cancer sufferers and their families.
Plans are in the pipeline for a multi-million pound cancer treatment centre to be built in north Hampshire.
The centre, which is expected to cost up to £16million, will offer chemotherapy, radiotherapy, palliative care, core therapies and complementary therapies to patients.
Currently, people have to travel to Southampton or Guildford to receive radiotherapy treatment, which is used for about four out of every 10 cancer patients.
This means patients are often forced to make 60-mile round-trips daily, for a period of up to six weeks at a time.
The new treatment facility, which is expected to cost between £12m and £16m, could be open as soon as 2015 and would make a huge difference to journey times for cancer sufferers and their families and carers.
It has not yet been decided where the facility will be located, but it will be built in the Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust area which serves Basingstoke, Andover and Winchester.
Divisional medical director Mr Merv Rees and clinical director for cancer services Dr Lara Alloway are the driving forces behind the ambitious scheme.
Dr Alloway explained that radiotherapy is being used more and more for treating cancer, both as a cure in the early stages and in palliative care to relieve the symptoms of the disease.
She said that, with an ever-increasing and ageing population, the need for a cancer treatment centre in the Basingstoke and north Hampshire area is compelling.
She said: “There is a national recommendation that people should not travel for more than 45 minutes to receive radiotherapy. That is not happening at the moment.
“We’ve also heard that parking can be a real problem at the moment for patients who have to travel to Southampton or Guildford. There is a real need in the area for this centre.”
Mr Rees, a consultant general and hepatobiliary surgeon, said: “This is about demonstrating to people that we do care about their health, and want to deliver the very best for them.”
He added the scheme has the full backing of everyone, from chief executive Mary Edwards downwards, in Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
Funding for the centre will be split equally between Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, and through fundraising and donations – and Mr Rees said the public will have a key part to play if the project is to hit its multi-million-pound target.
He said: “People in the area are very generous when it comes to fundraising. The response we had when fundraising for The Ark was fantastic, and with a project like this, which will make such a big difference to patients, I’m sure people will want to help and support it.”
A fundraising campaign will officially be launched in September.