A cancer patient from Holmes Chapel became the first person to have radiotherapy treatment at The Christie at Macclesfield today (7 February).
Thomas Walker, 66, was greeted by the lead radiographer for the centre, James McGovern. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2021 and referred to The Christie for hormone therapy and 20 sessions of radiotherapy treatment.
Patients like Thomas previously had to travel to Withington in South Manchester for treatment. Thomas’s first 9 radiotherapy treatments took place in Manchester so being offered the final 11 treatments in Macclesfield is a welcome relief.
Thomas said: “The new centre looks great and I’m so pleased that I can finish my radiotherapy treatment here rather than having to travel to Manchester which was a 2-hour round trip for me. The staff in Macclesfield were superb and looked after me so well. It feels so calm and is bright, clean and spacious, with brand new technology.
“I am sure that The Christie at Macclesfield will make a massive difference to so many patients like me from East Cheshire and the surrounding areas.”
Radiotherapy is a specialised procedure using high energy radiation beams to destroy cancerous cells. The beams are targeted at the cancer cells and delivered by a machine known as a linear accelerator. Cancer patients may need radiotherapy every weekday for up to 6 weeks.
There are 2 radiotherapy machines at The Christie at Macclesfield, each weighing 6.5 tonnes and costing around £2m each. They are housed in 2 treatment rooms that have been specially designed with concrete walls up to 2 metres thick.
The new £26 million cancer centre opened on 13 December 2021 and treated its first chemotherapy patients that day. With the radiotherapy service now treating patients, the centre is fully open and will provide 46,000 patient appointments and visits each year, and provide care closer to home for more than 1,500 patients a year.
In addition to 12,500 radiotherapy appointments and 6,800 chemotherapy, immunotherapy and hormonal treatments, The Christie at Macclesfield will offer a range of holistic services including haematology treatments, outpatient care, nurse-led clinics, counselling services, an information centre, palliative care and a wider range of clinical trials.
The centre also has a CT scanner where treatments are planned, complementary therapy rooms and a charity centre.
Funded through £23m from The Christie charity, this new centre will transform cancer care, treating patients from Cheshire, The High Peak area of Derbyshire and parts of North Staffordshire for the most common cancers like breast, bowel, lung and prostate. Patients with rare and complex cancers will continue to be treated at The Christie in Withington.
The chief executive for The Christie, Roger Spencer, said: “I am delighted that The Christie at Macclesfield is now fully open and treating radiotherapy patients. This is the group of patients who will benefit most from the new centre, as previously they had to travel into Manchester every day for several weeks, at a time when they and their families were already experiencing a lot of stress and anxiety.
“The team at The Christie at Macclesfield is committed to delivering the very highest standards of Christie care for our patients. The centre marks a new era in cancer care and treatment for people from East Cheshire and the surrounding areas.”
The Christie has produced a short video of the new centre so that patients can look around before they come for treatment.
The Christie at Macclesfield is the third in a network of local Christie radiotherapy centres where patients can access first class radiotherapy treatments from Christie experts, but much closer to home. The other centres are in Oldham and Salford.
Work on the 2-storey building commenced in the summer of 2020 and despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the project was completed on time and on budget. The Christie at Macclesfield has been designed in a way that will cater for the needs of patients with frailty.
Following the completion of the new cancer centre, there is still more to be done to support cancer patients as they go through their treatment. The Christie charity provides enhanced services over and above what the NHS funds. At Macclesfield, this will include complementary therapy, refreshments for patients, and other supportive services. Gifts from the public make a huge difference to the care and treatment that we can provide. To support patients at the new centre, visit The Christie at Macclesfield fundraising page or call the team on 0161 446 3988.
The Christie NHS Foundation Trust was the first specialist trust to be rated as ‘Outstanding’ twice (in 2016 and 2018) by the health regulator the Care Quality Commission (CQC). It referred to The Christie as ‘a leader in cancer care’ and ‘a pioneer in developing innovative solutions to cancer care.’ The CQC praised the Trust’s staff which it said ‘go the extra mile to meet the needs of patients and their families’ and that they were ‘exceptionally kind and caring.’ In 2017, the CQC rated The Christie as the best specialist trust in the country, and one of the top three trusts overall in England.