New brachytherapy suite opens at Southend Hospital
28 April 2016
Thanks to patient power, Southend University Hospital has opened a brand new state-of-the-art brachytherapy suite that will see it being able to offer the best service of its kind in Essex and one of the leading providers in the country.
With such a dedicated theatre it now means that Essex is now one
of the elite in the country to boast such facilities.
Brachytherapy is the treatment of cancer using radioactive
sources and this new suite brings together all the different types
of treatment and all the different ways of treating it in one
place, which increases the number of patients who can use it, but
more importantly the accuracy of the equipment.
James Green, consultant clinical scientist and head of
radiotherapy, said: "We can now treat four or five different types
of cancer in as many different ways in our new theatre, this new
building allows us to bring all that together for the very first
time which is a massive advantage for patients and staff."
The suite offers two types of treatment for prostate cancer,
gynaecology, skin cancer and will be offering it for rectal cancer
soon. It also has the facility to treat osphosegus and breast
Five years in the planning, the new £540,000 suite has been paid
for by both the hospital and the generosity of local people, the
latter donating an amazing £260,000 in legacy donations to its
build with a further £140,000 in fundraising paying for all of the
state-of-the-art equipment. The project totalling £680,000.
James said: "I cannot thank each and every person who has
donated to the cause enough, without their hard work this just not
would have been possible. These advances and changes will
revolutionise brachytherapy care at Southend Hospital for hundreds
of people every year across Essex.
"Our brachytherapy treatment is no longer spread across the
trust - as it was previously . We no longer have to go up to
theatres it is all done in this one area, self-contained and all
under one roof."
It is estimated that the centre will see between 250-300
patients per year and has a greater capacity than previously, which
means that an extra session needs to be added to meet demand then
it can; ensuring patients are seen much quicker. Something which
previously was not possible.
This ensures an efficient flow for patients, with the CT scanner
situated opposite, providing them a much smoother service.
Previously patients had to be transported from theatre to the
brachytherapy suite, it all now takes place in one place meaning
that patients have greater dignity and they don't have to be
transported from one part of the hospital to the other. And when
they were they had to keep switching trollies and beds during
James said: "Now our own trolley beds eliminate that issue so
patients are on one trolley bed for their entire journey of
treatment when they come in and see us. We have three specialist
trollies in total which are theatre couches and trollies at the
same time which means once the patient is on them they receive all
their treatment on them and don't have to switch. Each costs
"Modern and inviting is probably the words I would use for the
new brachytherapy area, the old one was often referred to as 'the
shed'. It did us proud but this is in a totally different league
and will be of a huge benefit to patients in terms of receiving
their treatment in a much better environment.
"Southend Hospital is a designated cancer centre and we are
probably the largest provider of high dose rate (HDR) in the
country, even having patients recommended to us by doctors from
Harley Street, so it is nice that the centre and staff are getting
the recognition that they deserve. The new brachytherapy suite is
an amazing addition to our arsenal in the fight against cancer for
the people of Essex.
"It is very rare to have a suite like this and you can be sure
that we will be making the most of this facility to cut down on
waiting times for cancer treatment."
£51,800 legacy to mum enables machine
A donation of £51,800 from the Foster family has funded an
upgrade to the HDR machine that delivers brachytherapy. Previously
there were only 18 needles to deliver treatment but now it has been
boosted to 30 needles which means both speedier and more effective
delivery of treatment.
Alan Foster, from Canvey, said: "My mother had great service
from the NHS for various health issues before she died and my
father died of cancer. My brothers and I decided to donate our
parent's life savings to the hospital where my mother was cared
for. When we heard about the Brachytherapy appeal we knew this was
an area we wanted our donation to benefit."
James Green added: "We can now give treatment in 30 places
simultaneously. That modernises it massively, makes the cancer much
easier to treat and because there are more needles it is all done
in one hit. That it came from one donation is just brilliant."
And the Foster family generosity hasn't ended there; the gift
aid generated from this incredible donation amounted to almost
£13k, which the family kindly donated to the hospital's Bosom Pals
Staff art work to welcome patients
To help put patients at ease and make it a more welcoming
atmosphere a sweeping graphic of beach huts in Thorpe Bay has been
added to the partition screens. The cheery image was provided by
one of the radiographers in the team, Angharad Baker, 31, from
Benfleet. Of the installation she said: "I'm really proud to
have some of my work on display knowing that it will make such a
positive difference to the patient experience and improve the