A refurbishment of The Christie’s radiotherapy centre in Oldham has reached a major milestone with the arrival of a final new life-saving linear accelerator.
A team of Christie engineers began the complex task of replacing the 2 linear accelerators used to deliver life-saving radiotherapy treatment and a CT scanner last year – the centre has benefited more than 15,000 patients in 13 years.
Since the centre opened in 2010, the machines have delivered more than 160,000 treatments and were replaced as part of a routine programme to ensure patients benefit from the latest and safest technology and treatment techniques available.
The £6.3 million refurbishment has been carried out in a phased way over 12 months to keep disruption to patients to an absolute minimum. The replacement of each treatment machine takes around 6 months due to the complex nature of building the equipment and ensuring expert physicists carry out the necessary safety work before it is used to treat patients.
The arrival of the second linear accelerator marks another complex part of the whole project and scientists will now complete their vital work to get it ready for use.
During the refurbishment, The Christie team has worked hard to ensure the majority of patients are unaffected by the extensive work. Some patients with more complex tumours have had their care transferred to The Christie’s main site in Withington during the works.
The Christie at Oldham – the new linear accelerator now in place. Lead engineer at Oldham Ian Hollis is pictured overseeing delivery works
Lead radiographer Julie Davies explained: “We’re delighted with how well the refurbishment is going so far and it is really exciting to see it all come together. The arrival of the second linear accelerator is a major step towards the completion of this project. When complete, our patients will benefit hugely from advances in technology, and we will be delighted to offer all our services again closer to home after our year-long refurbishment programme.”
The Christie at Oldham was the first in a unique network of Christie radiotherapy centres allowing thousands of patients to be treated closer to home. The centre, which was opened in March 2010, cost £17m and was funded after the generous people of Oldham and surrounding areas supported a major fundraising campaign by The Christie charity to bring the first facility of its kind in the UK to The Royal Oldham Hospital.
Previously patients across Greater Manchester could only access radiotherapy at The Christie’s site in south Manchester. Opening in a blaze of glory with a visit from former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, the centre has gone on to deliver more than 160,000 patient treatments, saving thousands of patients a 3-hour round trip for daily treatment for up to 6 weeks at a time.
The drive to provide care closer to home where possible for patients is one of the main aims of The Christie to make cancer care as easy and convenient for patients as possible. Since Oldham opened in 2010, The Christie has gone on to open two other radiotherapy centres in Salford and Macclesfield as well as introduce local chemotherapy clinics at 12 other sites, and in patients’ homes.
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.