New cancer unit will be '˜bigger and better'

An appeal by charity Rosemere Cancer Foundation to raise £100,000 towards a new, world class chemotherapy unit at Burnley General Hospital has been achieved in less than 10 months.

Tuesday, 5th July 2016, 9:25 am
Updated Thursday, 25th August 2016, 6:34 pm
(Left to right) Dan Hill, Rosemeres East Lancs fund-raising co-ordinator, who led the appeal, East Lancs Hospitals NHS Trust Non Executive Director Stephen Barnes, patient Janice Nadin, chemotherapy unit manager Sister Angela Holden and Trust Divisional Manager Tony McDonald (s)

Given this incredible show of public support, hospital bosses have decided to re-work the original plans and are now looking at building an even bigger and better facility.

Rosemere’s East Lancashire fund-raising co-ordinator Dan Hill, who led the appeal to raise what is half of the new unit’s build and furnishing costs, said: “When we launched the appeal on September 10th last year, we thought it would take us a good 12 months to raise the money.

“To achieve it in under 10 months is just fantastic.

“We’ve had tremendous support from all factions of the local community – businesses, Burnley Football Club, schools, service organisations, scout and other groups plus lots of individuals, who’ve taken on various sponsored activities to help us. It’s really been quite humbling and we are very grateful.”

East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, which manages Burnley General Hospital, is paying the other half of the new unit’s bill and will also meet its day-to-day running costs.

In February this year, the Trust completed an outline business case, which was received by the NHS’ Institute for Innovation and Improvement.

The business case sets out the Trust’s vision for the Burnley site, stipulating a cost of £15.6 million to complete Phase 8 development of the hospital’s Casterton Avenue complex – the final tranche of funds making up a £60 million investment at the hospital site over the past decade.

The NHSI’s formal ratification of the Phase 8 project is expected any day now and buoyed by the public’s interest in the new chemotherapy unit, hospital leaders have been able to re-look at original plans and re-work them so the new chemotherapy centre will now neighbour the hospital’s Breast Care Unit.

The Trust’s Business Manager for Cancer Services, Juliette Brookfield, explained: “We currently have a very good chemotherapy treatment centre at Burnley General Hospital, but our concern was that it was in danger of becoming too small to meet demand as there is no room for expansion.

“Having drafted plans for a bigger centre within the main hospital, we approached Rosemere with a bid for financial support so we could create not only something bigger but also a unit that was totally patient-focused and second to none in the country.

“Rosemere didn’t hesitate in coming forward with help and we are very grateful for the help it has delivered.

“In the meantime, the Trust awaits its Phase 8 development funding to be formally ratified by the NHSI but because of the changes within the hospital’s lay-out that this will enable, we saw an opportunity to site the new unit in a slightly larger space to that already earmarked for it.

“This area is next to the Breast Care Unit.

“For breast cancer patients, this will mean they will be able to have screening, consultations and any chemotherapy all within same area, which is obviously much more convenient as currently, to access these services, patients have to visit two different sites in different parts of the hospital and would have had to continue doing so under the original draft plans for the new chemotherapy unit.”

The wait for Phase 8’s ratification has meant a delay to work starting on the new chemotherapy unit.

While it was meant to begin just over a month ago (end of May), it is not now expected to start until the autumn.

But when complete, the re-worked new unit’s benefits are expected to far outweigh any inconvenience caused by the delay, not just for breast cancer patients but all those receiving chemotherapy treatment at the Burnley hospital.

The re-siting of the new chemotherapy unit will mean it will be part of a dedicated cancer care floor, creating greater privacy for all patients and their families, especially as it will keep the dedicated parking outlined in the original plans.

It will be even more spacious, enabling staff to create a calming, relaxed atmosphere that will be enhanced by natural light from windows with views to Pendle Hill.

Sue Thompson, Rosemere’s Chief Officer, said: “Although there has been a delay in the building of the new unit, the additional benefits it will bring should make up for it.

“There is a lot of documented medical research showing the environment in which cancer patients are treated can have a significant impact on outcome and those that receive treatment in centres designed specifically around their needs like the new Burnley unit tend to experience more positive results.”