November 2019

Team of the year

We are happy to announce that our radiographer team won North West team of the year at the recent Society and College of Radiographers Awards. Members of the team travelled to the Society and College of Radiographers headquarters in London to receive the award. They were presented with a certificate which is displayed in the proton beam therapy centre.

This award would not be possible without all members of the multidisciplinary team who work hard each day to provide the proton beam therapy service to our patients.

Well done to the entire proton beam therapy team on this achievement!

End of treatment bell cake

A patient who recently completed proton beam therapy presented the team with a special cake to celebrate the end of their treatment. The patient managed to recreate the end of treatment bell in cake form.

The end of treatment bell in the proton beam therapy centre symbolises the end of a patient’s proton beam therapy treatment. To celebrate patients, families and staff members gather around to watch the patient ring the bell.

The proton beam therapy centre at The Christie is home to the 100th end of treatment bell. The bell was kindly donated by Emma Payton and her family last year. 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.

Proton beam therapy centre coffee morning

A coffee morning is held every Friday morning in the proton beam therapy centre for patients and their families, visitors and staff.

Clinical support worker, Abbie Stones, had the idea for the coffee morning earlier this year. She said:

"I have been running a coffee morning now since around May time and the idea came about when it was a patient’s birthday. I ordered her a birthday cake and all the staff came out and we sang happy birthday. We spent the afternoon talking, drinking tea and of course eating cake. This made me realise how important talking and the holistic impact of conversation has on us, especially mentally and physically.

"I have always been a firm believer that laughter is the best medicine. Taking just 5 minutes out of your day to ground yourself, get away from the everyday stress of work and life and enjoy a hot cup of tea really improves wellbeing, so I wanted to find a way to take time out of the busy week to do just that.

"And with this the idea of a coffee morning was born. The coffee morning is a way for patients, families and staff to engage with one another when they might not get the opportunity to during the rest of the week. For me, I hope coffee morning is a chance to help patients put their worries to the back of their mind even if that is for half an hour. It also enables staff to get to know patients better, rather than just in a treatment setting.

"We are all human, we all have our own sea to sail, and sometimes we just need a reason to smile.

"I lost my mum in 2011, to cancer and she absolutely loved a piping hot strong coffee. So on a more personal level this is my way of giving back, to the hospital that helped looked after her. If offering hot drinks and free biscuits makes people happy, I am happy to provide."

July 2019

The Christie attends PTCOG 58

Janeen Kirwan (therapeutic radiographer) had the opportunity to attend PTCOG 58.

“I recently had the wonderful opportunity of attending the 58th Particle Therapy Cooperative Group (PTCOG 58) annual conference in Manchester. I attended alongside health professionals and scientists from around the globe committed to improving the treatment of cancer to the highest possible standards in radiation therapy. 

“The innovation theme of this year’s conference suits the city of Manchester extremely well, both in its historic contribution to the history of particle science, and more recently The Christie’s introduction of high energy proton beam therapy and an MR-guided linear accelerator. 

“Throughout the course of the conference, I gained invaluable knowledge about many aspects of the proton treatment pathway that has motivated me in my role as a senior radiographer. Attending lectures and engaging in discussion with professionals from both national and international proton centres has validated the current practice of proton beam therapy at The Christie as an exciting and innovative service at the forefront of cancer care globally. 

“I am looking forward to applying the knowledge I’ve gained during the conference to my practice alongside the community of multidisciplinary professionals at the proton beam therapy centre at The Christie. Our participation in PTCOG 58 and future conferences will prove invaluable to patients receiving radiotherapy at The Christie.”

BBC showcases The Christie's proton beam therapy service

The BBC’s science and technology documentary, Horizon, went behind the scenes at the proton beam therapy centre at The Christie on Monday 22 July 2019.

It is currently available on BBC iPlayer.

You can read more about this in our news story.

All three treatment gantries now clinical

In recent weeks, gantry 3 has become clinical and patient treatments are now being delivered in this treatment room.

As with the two other gantries, gantry 3 went through a period of commissioning during which the physics and engineering teams tested the performance of the treatment system to ensure it is safe, reliable and fit for clinical treatment delivery.

All three treatment gantries are now clinical and this exciting milestone shows the proton beam therapy service is getting busier as we treat more and more patients.

June 2019

Proton beam therapy clinical trials

The introduction of a proton beam therapy (PBT) service within the UK allows us to pose important research questions relating to the development and appropriate use of this exciting new technology.

Through robust clinical trials, we will look at patients and see how PBT can benefit them. This means all clinical decisions are based on high quality evidence.

The Christie actively participates in a large number of clinical trials within the photon radiotherapy department, with new trials opening on a regular basis. With the addition of PBT, there has already been a number of clinical trials opening and recruiting for both adult and paediatric patients. We expect numbers of trials to increase as the service develops further.

You can find out more about clinical trials you might be eligible for by speaking to your doctor or another member of your clinical team.

Paediatric patient information booklets

We have a new range of booklets for child proton beam therapy patients. Our health play specialist team worked on these booklets to provide helpful information and support.

The team worked with families who have had proton beam therapy treatment. This helped to define what information patients and families need when they visit the proton beam therapy centre at The Christie.

Health play specialist, Penelope Hart-Spencer, describes the design process: “The families and patients were keen to have colourfully illustrated information in an easy-to-use format. A paediatric workshop was set up and within that, children were given lots of colour schemes and themes to choose from.

“There was an overwhelming favourite theme of animals; with a panda being the preferred animal. Following this, it was decided that the character which would feature in the information for children would be a ‘proton panda’.

“As a team we felt it was important to listen to the experience of previous proton patients and enable them to help shape the paediatric patient information within our centre.”

We have different booklets for children of different ages. We also have other booklets if the patient is awake during treatment or having treatment under general anaesthetic. Patients get their booklets when they arrive at the centre and a member of the health play specialist team will work through the booklet with the patient.

As well as the booklets, the friendly characters also appear in the paediatric play preparation room. This helps to make it a pleasant and interesting space for children.

Penelope said: “We now have a magnetic wall which has an array of characters and magnets shaped as proton masks and central lines for us to use in our therapeutic and specialised play sessions with children.

“The characters and magnets will help children to learn about proton beam therapy treatment and also offers an opportunity for them explore and work through their thoughts and feelings surrounding their treatment, in a supported manner.”

You can see our new paediatric booklets on our proton beam therapy patient information page.

Gracie completes her proton beam therapy  

YouTuber Gracie was recently diagnosed with a brain tumour and after surgery, she came to The Christie for proton beam therapy. 

Gracie decided to make a video about her treatment to show other proton beam patients what the experience was like. 

After 28 sessions of proton beam therapy, Gracie completed her treatment. She got to ring the end of treatment bell in May 2019, signifying a successful end to her proton beam therapy. 

Follow Gracie’s journey via her vlog: 

May 2019 

Clinical fellows in proton beam therapy 

Simona Gaito, James Price and Shermaine Pan are clinical fellows, currently working in proton beam therapy. Simona is a young oncology clinical fellow and both James and Shermaine are proton clinical fellows. 

Read more about them on our clinical fellows page

Paediatric research nurse joins the proton beam therapy team 

The proton beam therapy (PBT) department would like to welcome Leanne Simms, paediatric research nurse to the team. 

Leanne brings 10 years of paediatric nursing experience to the team. She has worked at The Royal Manchester Children's Hospital for nine years caring for children undergoing surgical procedures and spent the last year of her career at the Salford Royal Hospital working in theatres. 

Leanne describes her new role and how she feels about joining the PBT service: 

"I am looking forward to adapting the skills I have learnt into my new role on the proton day unit. The day unit is an area used to prepare and care for children who require a general anaesthetic when undergoing their proton treatment. 

"From my experience, I am able to relate and empathise with these children and families to ensure they feel supported throughout their journey at the PBT centre.

"Another aspect to my role is working as a clinical research nurse. Working alongside children who are on clinical trials whilst coming for their treatment at the PBT centre is crucial to ensure we are giving our patients the best available treatment." 

One in a million cancer patient starts proton beam treatment at The Christie 

A woman diagnosed with a one in a million cancer has started life-saving treatment at the proton beam therapy centre at The Christie. Gail Nicholls, aged 47, was diagnosed with a sacral chordoma – an incredibly rare tumour which grows in the spine. 

You can read more about Gail's story in our press release


March 2019 

Wall art in paediatric waiting area 

Several of the paediatric areas in the proton beam therapy centre have recently come to life after the installation of wall art designs. The range of animal graphics have transformed the paediatric waiting area, day unit and anaesthetic areas. 

The animal characters, which go on a journey across rooms, can be seen gracing the walls and ceilings and help to create a friendly distraction for paediatric patients. Characters include elephants, lions, birds, koala bears as well as the familiar face of the proton panda hiding in each room for the patient to find. 

The wall art has added lots of colour and friendly faces to the walls and will hopefully help to put paediatric patients using these areas at ease. 

February 2019 

Read The Christie blog by our lead radiographer 

Our lead radiographer Hazel Pennington has shared her thoughts on what it was like to get the proton beam therapy service ready to treat patients on The Christie blog. 

Read Hazel’s blog to find out more about the launch of the proton beam therapy service. 

January 2019 

Welcome to our new senior radiographers 

Since the beginning of December 2018, the proton beam therapy centre has welcomed four new senior radiographers into the proton treatment team. Some of them have made the transition from our radiotherapy department at The Christie, while others have relocated to join us. 

When asked how she feels about joining the team, Janeen Kirwan, who joins us from the St. Luke’s Radiotherapy Centre in Dublin, said, “I am excited to be part of such an enthusiastic and professional team in the delivery of innovative proton beam therapy to adults and children attending The Christie”. 

Dave Roberts who previously worked at The Royal Marsden, Sutton also said, “I am very excited to be part of this groundbreaking treatment and to work within a wonderful multi-disciplinary team.” 

The proton beam therapy team is growing even bigger and we look forward to working alongside the new radiographers as we treat many more patients this year. 

The School at The Christie

Daily attendance for proton beam therapy treatment may interfere with your child’s ability to attend school on a regular basis. All children of school age who are receiving proton beam therapy treatment at the hospital will be offered teaching in our classroom. 

You can read more about the School on our teaching service page. 

Boy with rare brain tumour treated at the proton beam therapy centre at The Christie 

Mason Kettley was diagnosed with a brain tumour in October 2018. In January, he started world-leading treatment at the NHS’s new proton beam therapy centre at The Christie hospital in Manchester. 

You can read more about Mason's story in our press release

After his first week of treatment, Mason received a special invite to watch Manchester City take on Burnley. Mason is a massive City fan so the club invited him and his family for a VIP day out at the Etihad stadium. 

December 2018 

First proton beam therapy patient treated at The Christie 

The proton beam therapy centre at The Christie is proud to announce that it treated its first patient in December 2018. The team are delighted to reach this key milestone and plan to treat more patients in the new year. 

End to end testing 

Following ProBeam applications training, the radiographers have been testing out the gantries. The team has been delivering proton beams and taking scans and X-ray images of anatomically realistic phantoms. The phantoms are designed to replicate human anatomy and to safely test out the hardware and software of the ProBeam system. The end-to-end testing period has allowed the radiographers to review their working practices and develop detailed documents that will inform their practice when treating patients. 

November 2018 

New complementary therapist for proton beam therapy starting January 2019

The proton beam therapy (PBT) department would like to welcome Peter Sandy, senior complementary therapist to the team.

Peter brings over 10 years’ experience in clinical hypnotherapy with a special interest helping people with anxiety and phobia issues. He has taught hypnotherapy at Diploma level and helps train Christie staff stress management techniques.

Peter has been a member of the complementary therapy and wellbeing team at The Christie since 2013 supporting patients through various emotional issues ranging from managing anxiety, panic attacks and phobia issues, breathing problems, pain issues and insomnia. Peter also works within the smoking cessation and alcohol support team helping patients to overcome addiction problems.

Not all patients will require this service but if they experience any issues related to anxiety or phobias, Peter's stress management techniques can be a valuable tool to work through their stress.

Peter describes how the complementary therapy role will support PBT patients and staff.

"Anxiety is a natural feeling we all experience. However, at times of stress it can affect people in ways that become overwhelming both physically and mentally. For example, some patients may find the idea of wearing a special mask to help ensure accuracy during treatment a difficult and stressful thing to cope with resulting in higher than normal anxiety.

"A big part of my role is to help our patients to feel more relaxed and calm and assist them to find ways to cope with any challenges when under the care of the proton beam therapy centre at The Christie.  I look forward to starting in January and offering talking therapies like hypnotherapy, massage and aromatherapy, continuing to learn about protons and last but not least, how to enhance the complementary therapy service."

October 2018 

Senior health play specialist

The proton beam therapy (PBT) department would like to welcome Charlotte Cooper, a senior health play specialist, to the team. Health play specialists (HPS) work with children and young people who are in hospital, attending as an outpatient or in the community. Play can be used as a therapeutic tool to help children understand and cope with their treatment.   

Charlotte has described her experiences since joining the department.

“I have worked in haematology and oncology for 19 years and qualified as a HPS in 2002. Since then, I have been involved in developing and leading a radiotherapy play preparation service, working closely with the wider multi-disciplinary team. I have published two service evaluations evaluating the impact of play preparation for children receiving radiotherapy and reducing sedation for nuclear medicine imaging. I also bring experience in teaching, leadership and effective multi-professional working.

“I am a member of the national association of health play specialists (NAHPS) and I am active in promoting the role of the health play specialist nationally.

“We aim to develop a strong evidence base for the importance of HPS in the healthcare setting, which will ultimately benefit patients and their families.

“Although proton beam therapy will be challenging for children I am looking forward to equipping and using the playroom to start preparing and supporting them through play. Developing a range of therapeutic and playful interventions will reduce any anxieties, helping as many as possible to manage their treatment awake with the full support of everyone involved.

“There is such a positive atmosphere as you walk around the PBT centre and a strong commitment from everyone involved making such a specialised and challenging treatment the best experience it can be for the patients and families. I am thrilled to be involved so thank you to everyone for making me welcome and I look forward to what the future holds for PBT and our lovely new health play specialist team here at The Christie.”

ProBeam training

Radiographers on the proton team recently attended a five-day training course. A trainer from Varian passed on their extensive knowledge of the entire proton beam therapy system to the team. The team spent time in the classroom learning about the software and hardware involved in treating proton patients.  

The radiographers also then had the opportunity to experience some hands-on learning by working on Gantry 1. Training involved using the treatment table, moving the gantry, delivery of proton beams, and getting to grips with the imaging systems.

The practical element of the training allowed the radiographers to experience the sights and sounds of the ProBeam system, which will be invaluable as we move ever closer to treating our first patient.

Varian Users Meeting UK 2018

Members of the proton beam therapy team had the opportunity to attend the Varian Users Meeting conference 2018. Radiographers, physicists, dosimetrists and technologists attended the conference and presented on a range of topics. Topics included treatment delivery, plan robustness and optimisation, mitigating organ motion and systems implementation in proton beam therapy.  

“It has been exciting to present on the national stage and show the delegates all the hard work that the team has been doing leading up to the first patient”, said James Donnelly, superintendent radiographer.

The proton team would like to thank the hosts from the Queen's Oncology and Haematology, Hull for hosting an exciting and informative event.

Proton day unit

The proton day unit is designed for paediatric patients who require general anaesthetic. The highly experienced nurse-led unit is where patients will recover after proton beam therapy (PBT) and radiotherapy. It is located on the first floor of the PBT centre with access to the CT and MRI scanners and the treatment gantries so patients can be transferred quickly and safely onto the unit after their scan or treatment.

The unit consists of four bays including one isolation bay. Patients will enter the day case unit from the specialised paediatric waiting areas.

When the day unit is open, paediatric patients receiving radiotherapy who require general anaesthetic will have their planning CT scan in the PBT centre. The day unit team will be supporting the recovery and assessment of these patients. This is an excellent opportunity to utilise the space and resources of the PBT centre.

The opening of the unit signifies we are another step closer to treating the first proton patient.

September 2018

Proton charity sky dive

This month, therapy radiographer Lucy Davies participated in a charity sky dive – jumping from a plane at 11,000 feet.

Lucy said of her sky dive: “Having never done anything like this before, the sky dive was an exhilarating experience that I will never forget. My highlight of the sky dive was the sensation of freefalling through the sky at approximately 120mph, not to mention seeing the beautiful views over the Lakes as I parachuted back down to the ground. There was a sense of unity and exuberance throughout the day as there was many others who were also participating in a sky dive for The Christie Charity.

“The money I have raised will be allocated to The Christie Charity Proton Patient Fund, which will directly support our patients’ experience whilst they are undergoing proton beam therapy treatment.”

You can help Lucy Davies raise money for this great cause by donating up to the 17 October directly to her fundraising page:

Paediatrics clinics

On 10 September, our first paediatric clinic was held in the proton beam therapy centre. The clinic saw new, current and previous radiotherapy patients for review. Paediatric oncologists led the clinics but were supported by key workers, paediatric nurses, health play specialists and clinical support workers. It was delightful to see our patients and their families using the new facilities and getting their positive feedback on the clinic areas and the proton beam therapy centre.

With more clinics planned in the future, the proton beam therapy centre will continue to open up to more and more patients as we move closer to treating our first patient in autumn 2018.

NHS England Chief Executive visit 

NHS England Chief Executive Simon Stevens takes a tour of The Christie's new high energy proton beam therapy centre, meeting staff and patients. 

Simon Stevens and Imran Patel (Consultant Clinical Scientist) in front of Gantry 1

Georgia Wood-Wareing (PBT patient), Simon Stevens and Sophie Vohra (PBT patient)

August 2018

First measured Bragg peak on ProBeam

The physics and engineering teams are currently hard at work commissioning Gantry 1 and Gantry 2. The teams are working to measure, understand and test the performance of the ProBeam system. This will ensure the system is safe, reliable and fit for clinical treatment delivery.

One of the first measurements the teams looked at on Gantry 1 tested how the dose changes as a beam of protons passes through a water tank. The measured dose curve clearly showed the first Bragg peak seen at the proton beam therapy centre.

A Bragg peak shows when radiotherapy – whether that’s traditional photon radiotherapy or proton beam therapy – is at its strongest. As a proton beam passes through the body or the physics water tank, it delivers its maximum dose at a precise depth with little or no dose deposited beyond this point.

In proton beam therapy, the treatment is planned so that the Bragg peak occurs precisely at the site of the tumour. This means the treatment planning team can minimise the dose to healthy tissue – reducing long-term side effects – or safely increase doses to tumours, depending on the clinical need.

Measuring this first Bragg peak was an exciting development, marking the transition from planning and theorising to delivering real dose and treatment beams.

Welcome to our new diagnostic radiographer

The proton beam therapy department would like to welcome Amal Salah, a diagnostic radiographer, to the team. Diagnostic radiographers use X-rays, ultrasounds, MRI scans or other imaging technology to look into your body.

Amal has described her experiences since joining the department.

“As a diagnostic radiographer starting in radiotherapy, my new role was a challenging experience at first. Previously, I have had very little experience in radiotherapy or proton beam therapy. During my time as a diagnostic radiographer, I specialized in MRI after completing my Master’s degree in Advanced Medical Imaging.

“The biggest challenge I have faced in my new role as a pre-treatment radiographer in proton beam therapy has been understanding the difference between the diagnostic and therapeutic radiography processes. Additionally, the idea of using MRI scans to help plan radiotherapy treatment is a fairly new one, and this has meant new challenges and unique requirements.

“I am currently designing a presentation to teach therapeutic radiographers more about the process of MRI scanning and to help them learn the theory behind MRI.

“Thanks to both my academic and clinical backgrounds, I am also able to assist with scan optimization. This means we can produce the highest quality images, and these are essential for planning radiotherapy treatment.

“I will continue to embrace the challenges faced in my new role as part of the proton beam therapy team and value the opportunity to learn and evolve as a radiographer.”

Xploro Application

Over the last year, The Christie has been working in collaboration with the digital agency Corporation Pop® and mobile application Xploro® to create a unique patient information experience aimed at 8-14 year olds.

The aim of the app is to reduce anxiety by increasing the patient’s knowledge of proton beam therapy in a fun and interactive way. One of these methods is allowing the patient to design their own avatar who will then guide them through the various stages of treatment

Picture Copyright: Corporation Pop 

The app has also been designed to answer any questions a child might have about their treatment or the facilities available at The Christie. It will be pre-populated with answers from medical staff and content from CLIC Sargent and Bone Cancer Research Trust.

It is being partly funded by Innovate UK and the Social Tech Trust and will feature a range of content unique to The Christie.

We have had a great response from children at our engagement days and we can’t wait to see the finished product and the impact that it will have on a child’s treatment experience. 

Picture Copyright: Corporation Pop 

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.”  

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. 

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 therapeutic and diagnostic 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.

November 2017  

Radiographer visit to Varian Clinical School and Maryland Proton Therapy Centre  

Radiographers attended an intensive 3-day proton course hosted by the Maryland Proton Therapy Centre (MPTC) with international delegates from the US and Taiwan to learn the fundamentals of proton therapy theory, planning, treatment.  The visit allowed us to learn from the experiences of the proton therapy centre, which has been treating patients for 18 months.  

The radiographers had a one-week placement, shadowing the clinical staff on the proton treatment floor, which included time in the CT scanner and treatment gantries to get a full overview of the clinical proton practice. This helped to inform clinical decisions regarding treatment protocols, imaging protocols and patient information.  

September 2017  

We are pleased to announce that all of the large treatment equipment for the proton therapy centre has now been installed in the building.  The roof hatches have been closed and we no longer require the crane. This work has been completed about one month ahead of programme. Click here for further information.  

June 2017 

Delivery of the cyclotron  

May 2017 

Click here for details of upcoming deliveries to the proton beam site that may temporarily affect parking on Oak Road.  

March 2017 

The cyclotron is the machine which accelerates Protons up to an extremely high speed. These are then delivered using powerful magnets to the three Treatment Rooms as well as to the research room for work with The University of Manchester.  

The Christie cyclotron has been built by Varian in Troisdorf, Germany and is due to be transported to the Christie site during the summer. The cyclotron weighs the same as a Boeing 747 and is the size of a family car. Varian name each of the cyclotrons they produce and have chosen to name our cyclotron ‘Emmeline’ in recognition of the famous Mancunian Emmeline Pankhurst. The photo below shows senior members of the Christie team visiting Emmeline in Germany.  

February 2017 

This photo shows the inside of the first treatment room to be completed which is now ready for equipment delivery in the Summer. The image shows how large the room needs to be to house the equipment. The beamline will enter the room through the space currently taken by the doorway you can see. 

 Once the equipment has been installed the room will be fully fitted out to look similar to the image below.  

December 2016  

Construction works on the Proton site are continuing to programme.  The below photos are taken from roof level and show the completed concrete works to two of the main treatment rooms.

The below photo shows a view into the 4th room  which will be used for research.  The 3rd treatment room has now reached a similar stage of completion and the contractor is beginning internal fit out works in this room  ready for delivery of the equipment in June 2017.  

July 2016 

The Christie, together with partners in University College London Hospital (ULCH), applied in May 2016 to host the Particle Therapy Co-Operative Group Annual Congress (PTCOG). This conference brings together more than 1000 leading clinicians, physicists and other practitioners in particle therapy to share the latest clinical, scientific and industrial developments and showcase the latest technology which can enable organisations to improve patient treatment. The recent conference in Prague attracted more than 1100 unique delegates from all across the world, and over the next two years will be hosted in Yokohama (Japan) and Cincinnati (USA) before returning to Europe and Manchester in 2019. 

The bid was presented to the PTCOG global steering committee, composed of leaders of Proton and Heavy Ion treatment centres around the world, and was awarded to Manchester the same day, seeing off a competing bid from Krakow (Poland). Although the bid is a joint enterprise between the Trusts, the PTCOG conference, which takes place over 6 days, will be fully hosted in Manchester and take place at Manchester Central. Marketing Manchester estimate that, should the same number of delegates visit as did for Prague, that winning the conference will be worth more than £1.4m to the local economy, as well as attracting the best scientific minds to Manchester and raising the profile of The Christie and the NHS National Proton Therapy Programme.  

The Christie and UCLH were supported by Marketing Manchester, the Kenes Group and Clatterbridge, and received a long list of supporting letters from key individuals and institutions, including the Secretary of State for Health, Chief Exec for NHS England, the Royal College of Radiographers, CERN and the National Physics Laboratory, and many more. A copy of the bid book the Manchester team took to the conference can be found at this link. The Christie’s Proton Beam Therapy centre, due to commence treating patients in 2018, is of major interest to delegates attending this conference and was at the heart of the bid. 

More information about the conference is available  by contacting Jim Weightman on

Major structural work is continuing on our Proton Beam Therapy Centre site and over the next month work will progress to the columns, walls and floor slabs in the bunkers and cyclotron areas. 

Block A towards the back of the site is currently being clad and the internal fit-out of the building has begun. 

May 2016 – building progress update  

The proton beam therapy centre is progressing well and has now cast all of the ground floor slabs in the bunker areas; this now leaves the cyclotron slabs to be completed. The walls are progressing well and over the next month the first floor slabs are being cast to the bunkers.  

The first part of the site to be complete was handed over to the Trust this month with the early provision of the new major substation on Palatine Road. Cladding is progressing to the block A structure adjacent to the School of Oncology.  

These are our first images of the Varian cyclotron C14 which will be installed in the Proton Beam Therapy Centre in early 2017. It will supply the beam of protons to the three treatment rooms and the research room. The cyclotron weighs more than a jumbo jet but is not much larger than a family car!  

A cyclotron is a compact particle accelerator that uses electromagnetic waves to accelerate particles. A stream of charged particles is fed into the centre of the chamber, and voltage alternately attracts and repels the particles, causing them to accelerate.  

February 2016 

On Wednesday 4 February, The Christie invited health correspondent Thomas Moore and the Sky News team to come and film behind the scenes at The Christie for a whole day as part of World Cancer Day 2016. 

Sky News interviewed a variety of our patients, staff, fundraisers and clinicians during the day and were given exclusive filming opportunities. 

View the interview with Professor Nick Slevin on Proton Beam Therapy below:  

Two tower cranes are positioned on the Proton Beam Therapy site, each reaching a maximum height of 45 metres. This is about half the height of Big Ben and one third the height of Beetham Tower, Manchester’s tallest building.  The cranes will remain on site now until the end of 2016. 

The steel structure of the building is fast emerging.  In total 810 tonnes of steel will be used within the steel frame which is the equivalent of 583 VW Golf cars. The first 200 tonnes of steel, already in place, frames the tower to house the plant equipment that will support patient treatment equipment in other parts of the building.  

November 2015 

Concrete is poured to create part of the floor of the main treatment area. The Proton Beam Therapy Centre will be made up of 42,495 tonnes of concrete which is equivalent to 234 Jumbo jets.  

The way in which concrete sets is influenced by weather and temperature and is not predictable, so there will be occasions when we will have to work later than planned on days when concrete is being poured on site. You can find out the dates when this is happening by clicking here.  

September 2015  

Professor Nick Slevin hosted a meeting of the Royal College of Radiologists at The Christie, focusing on treatment advances for head and neck cancer and examining possible areas for future progress such as proton beam therapy.  

The Christie will also be hosting the British Sarcoma Group annual meeting in February 2016.  Proton beam therapy will be one of the focuses of interest for 2016. The call for abstracts is now open, click here for more information.   

August 2015 

Now the ground has been prepared, construction can begin with ‘piling’ for the Proton Beam Therapy Centre underway and continuing for 9 weeks. Piling is the essential support needed for the building, a technique that will set deep foundations. 

July 2015 

The Proton Therapy project celebrated a significant milestone in the programme today by holding its ‘ground breaking’ event on the site. 

The celebration was supported by patients, clinicians, senior NHS staff and contractors who have been instrumental in bringing proton therapy to The Christie in 2018. 

Patients Lucy Thomas and Andrea Seal (pictured) who travelled overseas to receive their proton therapy treatment, helped break the ground. 

A big milestone is achieved, as the main supplier contracts are signed. Varian Medical Systems will provide proton therapy equipment to both The Christie and University College London Hospital (UCLH).The Christie’s build partner is Interserve (ICL).  

The ground is being prepared and hoardings marking the site boundary reveal how the new centre will benefit our patients. 

Following the General Election and the approval of a Supplementary Final Business Case (SFBC), the Department of Health gives the go ahead for The Christie to sign contracts with our suppliers. The legal team is now working hard to finalise everything.  

March 2015 

The Department of Health announces the preferred bidder for the supply of equipment for the proton beam therapy service. 

The Christie and UCLH's preferred equipment supplier is Varian and The Christie's build partner is Interserve Construction Ltd. Both were selected following a rigorous public procurement process.  

February 2015 

The Department of Health approves the Final Business Case (FBC), which enables the Trust to appoint a preferred bidder of equipment and prepare contracts with this supplier and the build contractor. After the General Election, the Trust is required to submit a Supplementary Final Business Case, once the equipment and building contracts are finalised. 

July 2013  

The Department of Health and HM Treasury approves the Outline Business Case (OBC) to establish a national service for proton therapy in Manchester, as one of two national centres, the other being University College London Hospital (UCLH). A joint equipment procurement process will now be launched.  

December 2011 

The Christie welcomes plans unveiled by the Health Secretary to invest up to £150million in procuring a new cutting-edge 'proton beam therapy' radiotherapy cancer service.

The Christie is selected by the Department of Health as one of three potential providers of the service, alongside University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust. 

Last updated: February 2021