A new cancer centre on the site of the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle has welcomed its first patients.
It marks the culmination of two years’ work with an investment of £35million in north Cumbria to improve health outcomes for the local population.
The Northern Centre for Cancer Care, North Cumbria - a partnership between Newcastle Hospitals and North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust (NCIC) - brings all non-surgical cancer services under the same roof for the first time.
This means that patients no longer have to travel to different parts of the Infirmary for treatment.
The development of the centre will bring huge benefits to those people who need to access cancer services in north Cumbria as the majority of adult patients will be able to access the state-of-the-art facilities and receive their care closer to home.
Only patients with rare cancers, those requiring very specialist radiotherapy and children and young people with cancer will continue to be referred to the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle.
Around 2,000 patients are already set to receive treatment or follow-up care at the new centre with approximately 1,200 new referrals each year.
The team also expects to deliver approximately 11,500 radiotherapy treatments and 8,000 chemotherapy treatments, as well as 4,000 supportive therapy treatments, a year.
Kiyla Murray matron for chemotherapy services at Newcastle Hospitals said: “It’s been really lovely to welcome our first patients this week, this is such an important development for them.
They’ve all been so impressed so far and it’s great that we’re able to offer our patients all of these services within the new centre and reducing the need for them to travel quite so far to receive their treatment.”
The building will be managed by NCIC and services at the centre will be run by Newcastle Hospitals as part of the Northern Centre for Cancer Care. In April, around 80 members of staff from North Cumbria’s non-surgical oncology service joined the Newcastle team.
They will be supported by porters, housekeepers, estates and facilities staff from NCIC who will manage the maintenance of the building.
Together the trusts will be providing one of the biggest combined cancer treatment services in the country.
Dame Jackie Daniel, Chief Executive at Newcastle Hospitals said: “We’re delighted to have welcomed our first patients at the Northern Centre for Cancer Care, North Cumbria.
“The centre looks fantastic and all of the teams involved have worked incredibly hard to make sure this is a calm and comfortable environment for our patients.
“The development of the centre demonstrates our commitment to providing high quality and sustainable cancer services to people across north Cumbria and supporting patients to receive care closer to home.”
Lyn Simpson, Chief Executive at NCIC, said: “I know many people have closely watched the progress of the centre since construction began and it is excellent to see the building now complete and welcoming patients. The opening of the centre in partnership with Newcastle Hospitals is a real milestone in our journey to improve cancer services for patients across north Cumbria.”