[T]he first milestone has been reached in a large investment programme into modernising and improving access to cancer services across North Cumbria.
A new LINAC (linear accelerator) machine has brought the latest technology in radiotherapy treatment to the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle. North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust (NCUH) is one of 15 across the UK to benefit from this investment which is part of a national modernisation programme for cancer, with NHS England funding over 100 replacements or upgrades of radiotherapy machines in hospitals around England.
As part of the plans to transform cancer services in North Cumbria, NCUH is working in partnership with Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust as part of a ‘Cancer Alliance’, bringing together clinical and local health leaders to improve cancer pathways and local cancer services.
The LINAC went live to patients in November 2017 and an official opening was held last night (Thursday 4 January) to demonstrate how the new machine operates and to celebrate the hard work of the Radiotherapy team. John Stevenson, MP for Carlisle, attended to lead the opening.
Stephen Eames, chief executive at NCUH, said: “I am delighted that we now have the latest in radiotherapy technology to treat our patients here in North Cumbria.
“We have been working collaboratively for some time with our colleagues at Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust as part of a Cancer Alliance in order to ensure that radiotherapy, chemotherapy and oncology services can be delivered locally. The installation of the new machine is the first step to achieving long term sustainability for the service and we will be continuing to work with our colleagues in Newcastle to further develop our plans to provide safe and high quality oncology services for patients across our county.
“I would like to thank our staff in Radiotherapy who have worked tirelessly to ensure that no patient care has been disrupted during the installation of the machine. I am extremely proud of the team.”
As announced in July 2017, there will be between £30-50 million invested in North Cumbria to improve access to chemotherapy and radiotherapy by establishing a new cancer centre, complete with new equipment at the Cumberland Infirmary. A Full Business Case is currently being drawn up with more detailed plans for the centre.