New cancer unit gets go-ahead

A NEW specialist care unit will open its doors to cancer patients within a year after planners approved the £2.2million project yesterday.Bosses at the West Suffolk Hospital now hope the building, extending the current oncology department, will help staff meet two-week waiting time targets and retain the prized three-star status they were awarded last month.

A NEW specialist care unit will open its doors to cancer patients within a year after planners approved the £2.2million project yesterday.

Bosses at the West Suffolk Hospital now hope the building, extending the current oncology department, will help staff meet two-week waiting time targets and retain the prized three-star status they were awarded last month.

Catering for both in and outpatients, work on the Bury St Edmunds unit will begin in September and is scheduled to for completion in June 2004. The first patients will be welcomed around a month later.

News of the development, which has been jointly spearheaded by the hospital and Macmillan Cancer Relief, has been welcomed by local people – who will no longer be forced to travel to Cambridge to receive life-saving treatment.


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"The unit will be of great benefit to the community in west Suffolk, and is a very exciting development for us," said Julie Baker, of the Macmillan fundraising team. "This will be a very high quality building which reflects the needs of patients and their families.

"At the moment, with need growing, the facilities in west Suffolk are not really adequate, and some patients are having to travel to Cambridge to receive treatment, which must be very stressful, and also has cost implications.

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"The new unit will remedy that problem, and will be of a light and airy design to provide an environment which is as relaxing as possible.

"We do not receive any government grants at all, and the money needed for this project has been raised by local people, which is great.

"But we are anxious to stress that the appeal has not finished, and we still need people's support, to provide nursing posts in east Suffolk."

Former Newmarket trainer Bob Champion, who beat cancer to win the 1981 Grand National, yesterday applauded St Edmundsbury Borough Council's decision to grant planning permission.

"This is really great news," he said. "Anything designed to help cancer sufferers should be welcomed.

"The unit will make a real difference to people's lives, and will give support to the families of the patients. It can be very stressful to travel to receive care when you are suffering from something like cancer."

Mike Ames, St Edmundsbury Borough Councillor for the Abbeygate ward, said: "West Suffolk is an ever-expanding population and the hospital is the largest employer in the area.

"This development is inward investment – it is satisfying the central need in our immediate community as well as over the whole of the region."

n The Macmillan team will be holding a fundraising dinner, in Stanton, near Bury St Edmunds, on August 28. Tickets are priced at £50, to include entertainments, and are available from the charity's office on 01284 750808.

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