Colchester: Go-ahead for new �25m radiotherapy centre

CONSTRUCTION of a new �25million radiotherapy centre in Colchester is set to start next month – the biggest capital investment in health service in the town for a generation.

The borough council has given planning permission for the centre to be built at Colchester General Hospital and it is scheduled to be completed before the end of next year.

Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust hopes the centre will start treating its first patients in early 2014.

It will replace the existing radiotherapy centre at the cramped Essex County Hospital, which currently has three ageing linear accelerators (linacs) – machines used to give radiotherapy to cancer patients.

The new centre, between the main hospital building and Gainsborough Wing, will be built with five bunkers. Initially, three new linacs will be installed and the remaining two bunkers will be filled as demand increases for radiotherapy.

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The planning approval granted by the borough council was welcomed as “fantastic news” by Dr Gordon Coutts, chief executive of the trust. “The radiotherapy department at Essex County Hospital continues to provide an outstanding service but it has long been this organisation’s plan to centralise cancer services on the site of Colchester General Hospital,” he said. “We will be able to put in the most up-to-date machines and provide a quality service in a first-class environment for patients and carers.”

As well as linacs, it will also have an orthovoltage unit, to administer radiotherapy to treat cancers of the skin and superficial tissues, and a brachytherapy unit to administer a specialist radiotherapy treatment, implanting short-lived radio-isotopes into body cavities.

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The centre will also have a CT scanner, which will help hospital staff identify where a cancer is located in the body.

The centre will be the single biggest capital investment in the health service in the town since Colchester General Hospital was built in the mid-1980s. The trust’s other cancer services will also be moved to Colchester General.

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