Over 200 people from both sides of the border have now been treated at the new North West Cancer Centre at Altnagelvin, the ‘Journal’ has learned.
The Western Trust has confirmed that over the past few months, the £66m Derry facility has, for the first time, treated lung, bowel, bone and bladder cancer patients.
A total of 163 cancer patients from Derry, Limavady and the wider northern and western region have now been referred to Altnagelvin’s North West Cancer Centre since it opened eight months ago.
A further 42 patients from Donegal have also been referred for treatment.
Una Cardin, Radiotherapy General Manager at the Western Health and Social Care Trust, said: “We are very encouraged with how this new service is progressing.
“The North West Cancer Centre at Altnagelvin Hospital commenced patient radiotherapy treatments on November 30, 2016.
“From November to February advanced radiotherapy treatments were delivered to patients with prostate cancer whilst the treatment protocols for breast radiotherapy were finalised.
“In March 2017, the first patients to receive breast cancer radiotherapy attended the North West Cancer Centre.
“Since May, 2017, a small number of patients requiring radiotherapy for cancer of the lung, bladder, bone and bowel have benefited from having their radiotherapy treatment closer to home.
“As each of these new treatments have been introduced as part of the overall plan to become fully operational, the service has been successfully validated by external Professional Bodies from Public Health England (PHE) and the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) Northern Ireland, to ensure the delivery of high quality safe and effective care for our patients is achieved.
“To date 205 patients have been referred to the NWCC for radiotherapy treatment of these 163 patients were from the centre’s catchment area in Northern Ireland (Western Trust area and the northern sector of the Northern Trust) and 42 patients were from Donegal.”
Almost 220 additional staff are based at the new facility at Altnagelvin Hospital, with the local contingent joined by experts in radiotherapy and associated services from across the globe. Health experts who moved abroad for work are returning to take up positions at the new North West Cancer Centre. The new centre has also attracted key staff from England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland north and south, Australasia, the Americans and Africa.
Una Cardin said the clinical teams involved are working together “on a continuous basis to advance further treatments and ensure the clinical pathways are of the highest standards”.
“The Centre’s staff are fully committed to the delivery of high quality care and are working together for the benefit of our patients so that the very best radiotherapy treatment options are available closer to home.
“Feedback from our patients and their families has been very positive and complimentary. We are building a world class service locally that we can all be proud of.
“This was further realised just this week with the Radiotherapy department being the first in the UK and Ireland and fourth in the world to install Varian’s Truebeam (2.7) on our treatment machines at the NWCC. The new features include enhanced quality of imaging during treatment which is also quicker and more comfortable for patients.”
The North West Cancer Centre was secured following a major cross-border campaign led by cancer survivors, and local health professionals, politicians and communities.
It houses state of the and art diagnostic and treatment facilities and a ward with 27 single and en-suite bedrooms for patients who are required to stay overnight, with additional bed accommodation for those wishing to stay overnight with their loved ones.