WORK has started on the long-awaited £18m radiotherapy unit at the Great Western Hospital.
A socially-distanced celebration with GWH’s Brighter Futures, Oxford University Hospitals and contractors John Sisk & Son Ltd marked the start of construction.
The new centre will save an estimated 13,000 patient journeys to Oxford every year for radiotherapy, helping to alleviate anxiety, stress and save time.
It is an expansion of the service, currently provided from the Churchill Hospital in Oxford.
OUH has invested £18.4 million in the project that clinicians, health workers and local people have looked forward to for years.
A Brighter Futures appeal raised £2.9m to help kit out the centre and it reached its target in 2018 when a £175,000 grant from Swindon Rotary clubs pushed it over the line.
The Adver has supported the campaign since it was launched and readers did their bit in the effort to reach the target.
GWH chief executive Kevin McNamara said: “For years to come, this building will stand as a symbol of the spirit of Swindon and the thousands of people across the wider community who stepped forward and made it possible through fantastic fundraising efforts and a community spirit like no other.
“This is a fantastic milestone to celebrate in a very difficult year. A year that has reminded us all of the importance of the NHS and the incredible, life-changing and life-saving care, provided to thousands of people every day.”
Brighter Futures director of fundraising Catherine Newman said: “Over the three-and-a-half years that the appeal was running, we were overwhelmed with the response from thousands of people in Swindon and the surrounding areas who came together to do some truly amazing things for our charity.
“We were also incredibly grateful to receive donations totalling over £300,000 from the Rotary Clubs of Swindon and surrounding areas as well as a gift from the International Rotary.
“All the money raised will fund key clinical equipment in the new centre. Thank you to everyone who supported our appeal, and we must not forget those who are sadly no longer with us but with us in spirit.”
Dr Claire Hobbs, formerly head of radiotherapy at OUH said: “My colleagues and I have been working on delivering this service for many years now.
“It is so exciting to see the beginnings of where our new services will be offered. We have always wanted our patients to be able to be cared for nearer to home.”
OUH chief finance officer Jason Dorsett said: “Bringing radiotherapy to Swindon has been a long-standing priority for the local NHS. So many people have been working for so long on this, it is great to see real progress. The difference this new facility will make to local cancer patients and their families is so important. The reduction in travel time means less stress and anxiety and more time to do other things.”