The Christie charity is today launching a major new fundraising appeal to raise £23 million to build a state of the art new cancer centre in the heart of East Cheshire.

The new Christie Cancer Centre will be built in the grounds of Macclesfield District General Hospital, providing Christie cancer care closer to home for more than 1,500 patients a year.

The new centre will transform cancer care in East Cheshire, bringing together essential cancer services into one purpose-built unit delivering local specialist access to radiotherapy, chemotherapy, holistic support and information services, outpatient care, palliative care - and clinical trials.

While some cancer care is currently available in Macclesfield, many patients travel to The Christie in South Manchester for their appointments. For those patients who live furthest away, this can mean a journey time of two hours or more which puts a tremendous pressure on them and their families at an already stressful time. 

Many patients remain under the care of The Christie for at least five years and will have regular appointments throughout that time. On average, each new patient referred to Macclesfield will have over 25 appointments throughout the course of their treatment.

For radiotherapy in particular, patients have to attend hospital for treatment on a daily basis for up to six weeks or longer.

Dr Andrew Sykes, consultant clinical oncologist at The Christie and the lead doctor for the project, said: “Whilst patients and families are prepared to travel to The Christie for specialist services, we also understand that in reality many would prefer to have those services locally where possible. It saves valuable time and money and can make a difficult time much easier.

“The new centre in Macclesfield will provide the highest standard of cancer care for people in East Cheshire, but far closer to their homes than we have ever offered before.”

It is expected there will be around 40,000 patient visits each year to the centre, including patients from areas of Cheshire, North Staffordshire and the High Peak area of Derbyshire.

Planning for the new centre has taken into account East Cheshire’s ageing population and the predicted increase in demand for specialist cancer services in future years.

The centre will be purpose built to meet the needs of frail people and those with cogitative impairment (difficulty remembering, learning new things and concentrating) or dementia, with things like additional grab rails, high colour contrast walls, day and night clocks, calming environments, large signage, and falls reduction measures. Staff will have frailty and cognitive training to enable them to support patients with additional needs.

All patients will undergo a frailty assessment to identify those most in need of extra support. Dieticians, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, radiographers, nurses, dementia and social care specialists will work with doctors to help a higher number of older patients’ complete radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatments and get back to their independence sooner. Older people have been shown to have better cancer outcomes if they are supported in this way.

The new centre will be home to two linear accelerators - highly specialist equipment which will deliver more than 15,000 radiotherapy treatments every year. There will be 16 treatment chairs to deliver more than 4,000 chemotherapy treatments a year. The centre will also have outpatient facilities with specialist examination rooms, a CT simulator where treatments are planned, counselling and complementary therapy rooms.

All staff, including doctors, nurses and other specialists, will deliver care to the highest Christie standards - just nearer to home. Even the building has been designed to mimic The Christie’s main centre in South Manchester – providing additional reassurance to patients that they are being treated by international cancer experts.

Work on the two storey building is expected to start later this year with the aim of opening during summer 2021.

Gemma Ellis, 36, from Chapel-en-le-Frith in Derbyshire was diagnosed with breast cancer in February 2017. She had six cycles of chemotherapy at The Christie in Withington, followed by surgery at Stepping Hill hospital, and then a further 15 sessions of radiotherapy at The Christie over a four week period.

A year later, in February 2018, she found out she had developed secondary breast cancer. She is now on an ongoing course of hormone treatment including trastuzumab (Herceptin).

Now retired from her previous job as an NHS discharge co-coordinator in Bakewell, Derbyshire, Gemma is married to husband Ben a roofer and they have two girls, Ruby aged 9 and Scarlett, 7.

“The standard of care from The Christie has been exceptional,” she said. “I knew I was in the best place for my treatment, but having to travel so far was very disruptive. It meant I was not able to get home in time for school runs and was having to ring people to ask them to collect Ruby and Scarlett, which was stressful for me and unsettling for them.

“A Christie cancer centre in Macclesfield would have made a huge difference to me and my family. I’m delighted that the new centre in Macclesfield will also offer clinical trials as I know that so many patients now benefit from them.”

Director of fundraising at The Christie, Louise Hadley, said: “The Christie charity provides enhanced services over and above what the NHS funds and the support we receive makes a huge difference to the care and treatment that we provide to our patients and their families.

“This new Christie Centre at Macclesfield is an ambitious project to transform cancer care for thousands of patients who use our services every year. To make it happen we need to raise £23m. We’re planning lots of exciting fundraising events over the next 12 months and we’d love the people of East Cheshire and beyond to really get behind this fundraising campaign and get involved.”

John Wilbraham, chief executive of East Cheshire NHS Trust which operates Macclesfield Hospital, said: “I am really excited about this news and the benefit patients will get from this local service is fantastic.

"We have a great and long-standing relationship with The Christie and this multi-million pound investment on the Macclesfield Hospital site aligns with our ambition to provide local services to the standards our patients deserve and those our staff expect to deliver.”

The creation of a cancer centre at Macclesfield supports the NHS ambition to provide patients with care closer to home where possible and appropriate.