A huge project to improve care for cancer patients is underway at Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital.

Ark Cancer Centre Charity is raising £5million to help Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (HHFT) colleagues fund and deliver supportive care and services, complementary therapies, and an enhanced environment for patients and families.

Ark’s goal is to help fund and deliver services in a new cancer treatment centre. The planned centre is part of the Hampshire Together consultation programme, which is encouraging public and stakeholder feedback on the provision of a new hospital that will serve residents in the HHFT area. This will hopefully be built between 2025 and 2030.

In the immediate future, donations by supporters of Ark Cancer Centre Charity, including a significant grant from The Edwina Mountbatten & Leonora Children’s Foundation, have enabled HHFT to press ahead with the creation of the well-being centre in the existing Radiotherapy Unit on the Basingstoke site.

As well as funding the well-being centre, which will feature counselling and therapy rooms, Ark is also providing funds to pay for additional HHFT support staff, as well as education and exercise events that will benefit cancer patients in The Ark Conference Centre.

“The well-being centre is a significant milestone on the journey to a new cancer treatment centre,” said Merv Rees, Ark Cancer Centre Charity trustee and renowned HHFT liver cancer surgeon.

“This means that, for the first time, HHFT will be able to provide radiotherapy, supportive care, and complementary therapies in a calm, relaxing and modern environment – an important step forward that also begins to fulfil the aims of Ark Cancer Centre Charity.

“The well-being centre, and the provision of enhanced care and support, has been made possible by the generosity of Ark Cancer Centre Charity supporters, and the collaboration and teamwork with HHFT and University Hospital Southampton (UHS), which runs radiotherapy services at Basingstoke and Southampton.

“I am grateful to everyone whose help and support has enabled the charity to start delivering on its pledge to help HHFT colleagues provide enhanced care and support for cancer patients and their loved ones.”

The Edwina Mountbatten and Leonora Children's Foundation was established by Lord and Lady Romsey, now The Earl and Countess Mountbatten of Burma. The Foundation operates in memory of their daughter Leonora Knatchbull, who died aged five, from a kidney tumour in 1991, and Leonora’s great-grandmother Edwina Mountbatten, First Countess Mountbatten of Burma.

Mr Rees said: “Particular thanks go to The Edwina Mountbatten and Leonora Children’s Foundation. The trustees have contributed to projects and campaigns that support the well-being of cancer patients and their loved ones, and everyone involved appreciates this significant show of support with the well-being centre project.”

Philippa Aslet, lead cancer nurse and associate director of nursing at HHFT, added: “I think we can be really positive that despite the COVID-19 pandemic, we have pressed ahead with the well-being centre and with improving supportive care for cancer patients and their families at HHFT.

“Any new hospital build is an exciting prospect. This centre will be ready for the Autumn when we will know more about COVID-19 precautions. The ability to help and support people with recognised mental health needs, which is an unintended consequence of lockdown, makes a facility for talking therapies and symptom management all the more important.

“Thank you to Ark Cancer Centre Charity for providing the funding which has made this progress possible. I am delighted that we have been able to work with colleagues at HHFT and UHS to utilise the space to improve patient care.”

The well-being centre, being constructed by a team from Siteplan Southern Limited, should be completed by September. As well as the Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital site, HHFT runs Andover War Memorial Hospital and Royal Hampshire County Hospital, in Winchester.

Picture captions:

(left to right) Philippa Aslet, lead cancer nurse and associate director of nursing at HHFT, and Holly Hall, radiotherapy services manager, in what will become the well-being centre therapy room for can-cer patients.

Work is underway on the Ark Cancer Centre Charity-funded well-being centre that will help HHFT staff to enhance care and support for cancer patients and their loved ones.

Merv Rees, Ark Cancer Centre Charity trustee and HHFT liver cancer surgeon, has described the well-being centre as “a significant milestone on the journey to a new cancer treatment centre.”