A refurbishment of The Christie’s radiotherapy centre in Oldham reached a major milestone this week with the arrival of a new life-saving linear accelerator.
Starting in May, a team of Christie engineers began the complex task of replacing the 2 linear accelerators and a CT scanner used to deliver life-saving radiotherapy treatment which have so far benefited more than 15,000 patients in 12 years.
Since the centre opened in 2010, the machines have delivered more than 160,000 treatments and must now be replaced as part of a routine replacement programme to ensure patients benefit from the latest and safest technology and treatment techniques available.
The £6.3 million refurbishment is being carried out in a phased way to keep disruption to patients to an absolute minimum. The programme will take around 12 months to complete, one machine at a time, with the replacement of each machine taking 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.
A new scanner has now been installed and is due to become operational this week. The arrival of the linear accelerator marks the most complex part of the whole project and scientists will now complete their vital work to get it ready for use.
During the refurbishment, some patients with more complex tumours may need to receive their treatment at The Christie’s site in Withington. As much of their care as possible is being continued locally in Oldham. Patients affected by the changes are informed in advance and should continue to attend all appointments as normal unless advised otherwise.
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 new linear accelerator and the opening of the new scanner are huge milestones as the project progresses. 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.”
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 2 other radiotherapy centres in Salford and Macclesfield as well as introduce local chemotherapy clinics at 12 other sites, and in patients’ homes.