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New Linacs and CT simulators to be installed at the Churchill

The first Linac installed at the Churchill Hospital

Five linear accelerator machines (Linacs) and two CT simulators at the Churchill Hospital's Oxford Cancer and Haematology Centre will be replaced and improved over the next two and a half years.

Based in the Radiotherapy Department, which treats around 250 cancer patients a day, seven days a week, the new equipment will improve patient care by making personalised radiotherapy treatment faster and easier to plan and deliver.

The first of the new Linacs, a Varian Halcyon® machine, was delivered to the Oxford hospital at the end of June and is expected to treat its first patient before the end of August. This is the first bit of equipment to be installed as part of the project.

The current machines are at the end of their working life and the Trust is also taking this opportunity to upgrade the technology.

The computers, software, and networking in the radiotherapy treatment planning and patient management system have been replaced and are already making the booking, administration, and treatment planning processes quicker, simpler, and almost completely paperless.

As a result, the new software and hardware will reduce the time between referral and treatment because Clinical Oncologists can refer patients in from their clinics online without traditional paper correspondence.

Dr Ketan Shah, Consultant Clinical Oncologist and Head of the Radiotherapy department at OUH, said: "We have world class facilities and staff here at the Churchill Hospital and the new Linacs, CT simulators, hardware, and software will enable us to provide even more specific, personalised medicine for our patients.

"Because we will be able to plan and deliver treatment more easily, we will have more time to spend with patients supporting them through their treatment. 

"Our radiotherapy service will continue as normal throughout this replacement project, and this relies on an enormous amount of work by everyone in the department: from the reception and admin teams to the physicists setting up the new equipment and the radiographers who will learn how to use the new technology.

"We are also very grateful for the support given to us by our PFI providers, Ochre Solutions, Medipass, and G4S who are part of the team delivering these benefits to our patients."

The cost of the five new Linacs and two CT simulators will be met by the PFI providers as part of their lifecycle maintenance contract.

Jason Dorsett, Chief Finance Officer at OUH, said: "We are really excited for the new equipment to be installed at the Churchill Hospital because it will make a huge difference to our patients.

"Making the latest technology available to patients is vital to provide them with confidence and a much better experience. It is also more rewarding for staff as they can see the benefits for their patients first-hand."

CT simulators are used to take x-ray images, which are then used to plan and personalise each patients' radiotherapy treatment. With millimetre accuracy, they target the tumour and minimise the dose to the 'normal' tissues that surround the tumour.

Linacs are used in radiotherapy treatment of cancer patients. They produce high-energy x-rays or electrons, directed to the patient's tumour precisely following the treatment plan.

In a separate project, two new Linacs and a CT simulator will be installed in the Trust's new Radiotherapy Centre at the Great Western Hospital in Swindon, scheduled to open early in 2022.