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Oxford University Hospitals Radiotherapy Centre officially opens in Swindon

23/06/2022

Wednesday 22 June 2022 saw patients, clinicians and directors from Oxford University Hospitals (OUH) and Great Western Hospitals (GWH), alongside fundraisers from Brighter Futures, and construction firm Sisk gather to officially open the OUH Radiotherapy Centre located on the Great Western Hospital site in Swindon.

While this celebration marked the official opening of the building, the Centre will not be fully operational to patients until later this summer.

The event started off with a speech from Grant Mears, the Regional Director of Sisk as he thanked both hospitals for the excellent partnership forged to achieve the project which started in 2015, and expressing his delight at finally seeing the building become a reality. He then gave symbolic personalised keys to Dr Bruno Holthof, Chief Executive Officer, Oxford University Hospitals; Liam Coleman, Chair, Great Western Hospitals; Dr Claire Hobbs, Consultant Clinical Oncologist, Oxford University Hospitals and Richard Muldoon, OUH Project manager for the OUH Swindon Radiotherapy Centre.

Two radiotherapy patients, Sandra McGlone and Fred Bassett led the cutting of the ribbon alongside representatives from both hospitals. The OUH Swindon Radiotherapy Centre is an expansion of OUH’s radiotherapy service, currently provided solely from the Churchill Hospital in Oxford.

OUH has invested £18.4 million in this project and local people donated £2.9 million towards the specialist equipment needed to provide radiotherapy in Swindon, through the Brighter Futures’ Radiotherapy Appeal. This new centre houses two state-of-the-art linear accelerators which are mostly used for external beam radiotherapy and a CT scanner amongst other equipment.

The Radiotherapy Centre is part of a wider site development project for the Trust, including the expansion and co-location of urgent and emergency care services as part of the Way Forward Programme.

Jason Dorsett, Chief Finance Officer, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “I am delighted that the OUH radiotherapy centre at Swindon is now a reality, after over six years of planning and hard work.

“The difference this new facility will make to local cancer patients and their families is so important. The reduction in travel time means less stress and anxiety and more time to do other things. This brings quality care closer to home for our patients, which reflects our Trust values of compassion and excellence.”

Kevin McNamara, Chief Executive at Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Radiotherapy being provided from Swindon has been in the pipeline for a number of years, and I’m thrilled that we are soon going to be opening a brand-new Radiotherapy Centre right here on the Great Western Hospital site.

“Every day, many local people travel over 70 miles to Oxford for treatment but bringing radiotherapy closer to home will save thousands every year the extra travel and stress during what is an extremely difficult time.

“We are only in a position to open the Centre due to the help and support of so many; from staff, contractors, architects and our local community who have been instrumental in raising millions for the Radiotherapy Appeal.

“My thanks goes to every person who has helped us get to this stage. We hope that, with the relationship we’ve formed with Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, many patients will have a much better experience when receiving treatment for cancer.”

Jo Watts, Swindon Radiotherapy Operational Manager, Oxford University Hospitals said: “I have been a Therapeutic Radiographer for 19 years and I have lived in Swindon all my life. As the operational manager for the department, I feel extremely passionate about bringing a radiotherapy service to the people of Swindon and the surrounding area.

“The opening of the centre should substantially improve patient access and experience and ensure excessive travel isn’t a reason for patients declining radiotherapy. It has been brilliant to have been involved with the set up and to have seen it go from a building site to an operating radiotherapy department.”

Ajaz Shafi, Chief Operating Officer, John Sisk & Son Limited said: “It has been an absolute pleasure for John Sisk & Son Limited to work with OUH and the Great Western Hospital to deliver the Swindon Radiotherapy Unit.  The project has been an outstanding success for all parties, and it is heartening to know that the residents of Swindon now have a local treatment facility that will remove the need for extensive travel. 

“In recent years, Sisk has constructed over 50, complex, hospital buildings and we remain fully committed to working with the Trust again in the future and to remaining a dependable contractor in the sector.   We wish every good health to the people of Swindon.”

Cat Weaver, Associate Director of Fundraising and Voluntary Services, Brighter Futures said: “Opening a Radiotherapy Centre in Swindon has been a long time coming, and it is only through the support of thousands of local people that we are able to be here today.

 “Through this support, we were able to raise an incredible £2.9million towards the Radiotherapy Appeal, that we launched back in 2015. We’ve seen skydives, abseils, head shaves, bake sales, marathons and more, and every penny raised has gone towards purchasing equipment for the new Centre.

“It’s so exciting to see Radiotherapy here in Swindon, and my thanks goes to everyone who has supported our charity, and the Radiotherapy Appeal, over the years.”

Sandra McGlone, one of the two patients to open the Centre said:

“Having previously had breast cancer 6 years ago and now going through treatment for breast cancer again. I know first-hand how difficult it is to do a 60 mile round trip to receive your radiotherapy treatment.

“I had radiotherapy Monday to Friday for four weeks. That’s 1200 miles I had to drive. Not only are you dealing with the side effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, the long journey to receive your treatment, but also the financial implications of having to drive or use public transport.

“Having this facility within Swindon will help so many people during their very difficult time of being treated for cancer. Knowing that we’ve got a local radiotherapy centre will ease the burden physically, financially but also emotionally on people at one of the most vulnerable times of their lives.

“Thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone who has helped to make this dream become a reality.”

In 2016 Sandra was diagnosed with breast cancer, following surgery, six rounds of chemotherapy and four weeks of radiotherapy at Cheltenham Hospital, she was in remission. The following year she did a 15,000ft skydive raising money for Brighter Futures and the Radiotherapy Appeal.

Unfortunately, in December 2021, Sandra found out she had breast cancer again in her other breast. She has just completed chemotherapy and is waiting for an operation before starting radiotherapy which she hopes to have in the new Centre at Swindon. This time she shaved her head before treatment to donate her hair to a charity who make wigs for children going through cancer and raised money towards the CT scanner in the radiotherapy centre.