New centre will allow patients to access everything in one place

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The project manager of a new health and well being centre based at Altnagelvin Hospital, said patients had welcomed the idea of having all of their services under one roof.

Tara Boyle said the Macmillan Centre, which is currently under construction on the hospital grounds, could be operational by mid -January 2017.

And it’s anticipated that the centre, which only provides non-clinical services, will operate hand in hand with the new Radiotherapy Centre which is expected to be open by this Autumn.

The joint plans include the construction of a new £1 million purpose-built Macmillan Cancer Information and Support Centre together with the refurbishment of the adjacent Agnes Jones House to support long term management of chronic conditions. The proposed developments will use an interlinking walkway and garden between the Macmillan Cancer Information and Support Centre and Agnes Jones House.

The centre will be accessible to patients, carers and their families living with cancer and other long term conditions such as diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, arthritis and hypertension.

“This is not a clinical area, but an information and support centre,” said Ms. Boyle. “The contract was awarded in January and already the steel frame structure is up at the front of the site on the Glenshane Road.”

A number of services will be available at the centre including counselling, library facilities, wig fitting services, health and wellbeing clinics, complementary therapies, art therapy courses, gentle exercise classes and advice on benefits.

Ms. Boyle also revealed that Macmillan is funding a hub and spoke model for information which will be available in the new South West Acute Hospital and in the new Omagh hospital.

“A lot of services are already being delivered,” she said. “But this new centre means they will all be delivered from the one location. While it is on the hospital site, this is not a clinical area and will be a calming and welcoming environment.”

£1.5m of the money is being funded by Macmillan, with an additional £0.5m. by the Western Trust through general capital and endowment from gift funding. Macmillan will be launching their fundraising appeal for the centre on April 26. The cancer charity is also funding three posts to work across the entire Western Health and Social Care Trust area. They are also planning to provide information to GP Practices, libraries and other community venues.