What’s new and progress so far

Keep up to date with progress by following @TheChristieNHS on Twitter and give us your feedback by using the hashtag #christieprotons.

August 2018

Proton beam therapy patient accommodation

The Christie has been working with Staycity to provide accommodation for out of area patients during their course of proton beam therapy.

Staycity is located in Piccadilly, close to Manchester Piccadilly Train Station. Staycity is an ‘aparthotel’, meaning each apartment comes furnished with fully equipped kitchens, separate bedrooms and living area on one level. Families who have accommodation at Staycity will have access to a designated lounge and communal areas.

Where accommodation is provided, The Christie will provide a free shuttle service between the accommodation and the proton beam therapy centre for the duration of your treatment.

For further information, please visit the Staycity website.

July 2018

Tours of the proton beam therapy centre

At the end of July, the proton beam therapy centre opened its doors to a wide range of visitors. Attendees included past patients, clinical oncologists from referring hospitals, patients who have received proton beam therapy overseas, charity donors, neighbours and staff members from The Christie.

Visitors had the opportunity to visit several areas in the department, which will be involved in a patient’s treatment pathway. The tour included the ProBeam gantry, CT scanner, paediatric waiting areas, day unit and recovery and clinical areas.

The tours were well received by those who attended. Visitors gained a unique insight into proton beam therapy and all the hard work that has gone into developing the service.

The 100th End of treatment bell

The proton beam therapy department at The Christie has received its very own end of treatment bell. Emma Payton and her family have kindly donated an extra special gold bell.

Emma is a former proton patient who has received treatment in the USA. Emma and her family have been donating bells to radiotherapy departments across the UK, and they reserved the special 100th bell for the proton beam therapy department at The Christie.

This end of treatment bell will be put up in the proton beam therapy department so all our patients can ring it at the end of a course of treatment.

Pictured left to right: David McGovern (clinical support worker), Lucy Davies (senior radiographer) Hazel Pennington (lead operational radiographer – protons), Emma Payton

Northern Sarcoma CNS AHP Network

Members of the proton beam therapy team were delighted to provide a series of tours of the department for the Northern Sarcoma CNS AHP Network (N-SCAN). AHPs are specialist professionals - called Allied Health Professionals - and can play an important part in rehabilitation after sarcoma treatment. 

ProBeam training

Members of the proton beam therapy physics team recently attended a four-day training course. The two trainers from Varian passed on their extensive knowledge about the entire proton beam therapy system – right from the hydrogen ion source where protons are extracted into the cyclotron, through the beam line optics, up onto the gantry and into the rooms where patients will be treated.

We also got to grips with the many systems involved in this feat of engineering, including the most important safety systems. The practical sessions were really useful, imaging phantoms and treating them with protons, representing a typical clinical workflow. These new skills will be invaluable for the forthcoming acceptance and commissioning of the gantries.

The Christie Charity skydive event

Proton senior therapy radiographer, Lucy Davies, is taking part in a charity skydive this September to raise awareness and money for The Christie Charity. The money raised will go towards improving patient experiences for proton beam therapy. Every penny will make a real difference for our patients and help improve our services.

Lucy said: “I’ve always regarded myself as a bit of a thrill-seeker, but jumping out of a plane at 11,000 feet is the ultimate challenge! To be able to do this event, whilst also raising funds for The Christie Charity to improve the services and experiences for the patients I will be treating, is an amazing opportunity and a real motivation.”


June 2018

National Joint Sarcoma Meeting 2018

The Christie had the opportunity to host the National Joint Sarcoma Meeting. Attendees of the meeting included clinical oncologists, surgeons, physicists, dosimetrists and radiographers from all around the UK. Proton beam therapy can play a key role in treating some sarcomas. 

The National Joint Sarcoma Meeting is held with collaboration in mind. It was an important opportunity for surgeons and clinical oncologists to work together to develop and discuss the best treatments for sarcoma patients. 

The attendees also had the opportunity to complete a short tour of the proton beam therapy centre at The Christie. 

A selection of the attendees of the National Joint Sarcoma Meeting 2018 in front of Gantry 3

A big welcome to our new senior radiographers

Since the beginning of May, the proton beam therapy team have welcomed five new senior radiographers. Some of them have made the transition from our radiotherapy department at The Christie, while others have relocated to join us in this new venture.   

When asked how she feels about the appointment, Rachael Bailey (senior radiographer) responded: "One of my goals at university was to work in proton beam therapy. Several years later, I have achieved my dream job in my local city! I am so proud to be part of the treatment team of this exciting development and I look forward to seeing how the patient service enhances further over time."

May 2018

Beam on 

The milestone of the first proton beam delivery from a treatment gantry has been reached.

Protons have now travelled from the cyclotron, down the beam line and into Gantry 1.

This monumental stage in the project is down to the hard work of the project’s engineers. The project is moving ever close to treating our first patient.

First patient volunteer MRI Scans

The pre-treatment radiographers have conducted the first patient volunteer MRI scans for proton beam therapy in the UK.

The completion of these scans will aid in the development of MRI scanning protocols.

The pre-treatment team have been working with Lynsey Cameron-Clark (Philips Applications Specialist) to build MRI sequences specific to proton beam therapy patients.

April 2018

Annual Radiotherapy Service Leads UK 2018 

The Christie hosted the annual meeting of radiotherapy service leads from around the UK.

The radiotherapy service leads had the opportunity to complete a short tour of the new facilities.

James Donnelly, superintendent radiographer, said: “This has been a great opportunity to build relationships with colleagues from around the UK and to show the progress of the proton beam therapy service at The Christie.” 

Radiotherapy service leads pictured in front of Gantry 3 and the CT scanner.

Proton Beam is moving ever closer

The Energy Selection System (ESS) has been under calibration for the past 4 weeks, this task is almost complete. The calibration occurs by placing a water tank into the beam line and taking a series of measurements.

The ESS comprises of a number of carbon wedges being placed into the proton beam path to facilitate changes in the proton energy. This change in energy corresponds to the depth treatment is delivered in a patient. Once completed the commissioning of the magnets, which position the proton beam in the treatment room, can begin. The proton beam will move into Gantry room 1 once completed, which is a huge milestone in the project. 

March 2018

Visit by CLIC Sargent Nurse educator (North)

The Christie proton beam therapy centre received a visit from Linda Sanderson this month. Linda is a CLIC Sargent Nurse Educator. Linda was keen to update her knowledge on the development of the centre and pass this onto other CLIC Sargent Nurses in the North of the UK.

“It was great to meet the expert team who are preparing to care for Children, young people and their families when the centre opens,” said Linda.

The proton team hopes to see Linda and her colleagues again in the future once we are up and running. 

Cyclotron Commissioning 

The Cyclotron commissioning is nearing completion. The cyclotron is the machine that accelerates protons up to an extremely high speed. Internal efficiency of the cyclotron is at 100%, with the extraction of protons currently at 82%. The cyclotron is working well within expected guidelines.

Energy Selection system (ESS) commissioning

The next part of the project underway is the commissioning of the Energy Selection system (ESS). The ESS allows different energies of proton beam to be available for clinical treatment. The energies range from 70 MeV to 250MeV. The commissioning is completed by inserting a water tank into the beam line and measuring the beam energy. Once this is completed, the proton beam is taken into Gantry room 1. This will happen over the next few weeks.

Beam Transport System (BTS)

Beam Transport System (BTS) has been leak tested in preparation for the proton beam to be taken into the different gantry rooms.

Gantry Room 1 

Gantry room 1 has now completed installation of ProBeam Machine Control Software, and the gantry now moves under its own steam. This is a very important milestone. The treatment room is near completion ready for building handover next month.

Team site visit 

Radiographers from the proton therapy team completed a site visit this month. The team was impressed with the progress of Gantry 1 and had a sneak peek behind the scenes. 

CT and MRI Scanners delivery and acceptance 

Both the CT and MR scanners have been delivered installed and accepted. Both machines are now operational and staff have started to receive training.  

Last week we took our first human images on the proton MRI scanner, those images were healthy volunteers from our staff group. They represent several very exciting milestones, including: 

  • The first persons scanned on the PBT MRI scanner
  • The first human image captured on the Philips new MR RT scanner in the UK
  • The first person scanned on The Christie’s first dedicated MR scanner for radiotherapy planning  

Commissioning of both scanners has been started by radiotherapy physics and will continue for several weeks. 

The first patient volunteers will be scanned on the MRI scanner and radiotherapy patients will be scanned on the new CT at the end of May. 


February 2018 

Staff trip to Maryland, USA 

Four of the new superintendent radiographers visited the Maryland Proton Treatment Centre in Baltimore, United States. The trip lasted a week, involving five working days in the department, becoming familiar with the equipment currently being installed at The Christie.

It was especially useful for us to see how it is used by the “Radiotherapists” (as the staff are known in America). We learnt a great deal from the visit and were provided with a huge amount of support and time to answer the large number of questions we had. We all remarked how important the trip was, as no amount of UK based research could replicate the experience of working with a fully functioning department. 

Appointment of the Superintendent radiographers 

From February 2018, the Christie proton team has grown as more radiographers have come into post. The team consists of therapeutic and diagnostic radiographers from both sides of the profession. The new team is working to develop the proton beam service as we move ever closer to opening. Members of the team have completed training nationally and internationally to develop their skills to bring the most effective and efficient service to patients. 

“I’m hugely excited and proud to join the team in this project of national importance, bringing PBT (Proton Beam Therapy) to The Christie and subsequently to the NHS for the first time. Having worked with the majority of the people recruited in various previous radiotherapy roles, I’m assured of the ability of the team to deliver what is required.” David Kirk, superintendent radiographer 

The team is keen to continue the development of the first NHS PBT service. #Christieprotons 


January 2018

Patient Engagement Day 

The Christie proton therapy team has hosted its third patient engagement day. In attendance were many patients and carers who have previously had proton treatment in the US. The day was used to find out about their experience of receiving proton therapy. We wanted to know about the positive and negative experiences of the treatment. As this was the third patient engagement day, we also wanted to build upon ideas from the previous engagement days, to ensure we are on the right track. The staff were all really inspired by the patients and their stories and so grateful for their time. 

James Donnelly, superintendent radiographer, said: “This has been my first patient engagement day. I have taken a lot on board. It has been good to see treatment from a patient's perspective. This event is something I can reflect upon and use to help develop my skills in delivering proton beam therapy.” 

It was a well-attended day and we hope it will result in patients who will feel well informed and well supported during their treatment at the Christie proton beam centre once we open. 


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