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New theatre to improve cancer care for Essex

16 August 2017

Health Care

The £540,000 Brachytherapy Suite at Southend University Hospital, which first opened last year, has been utilised as a theatre for the very first time, meaning that increased numbers of prostate cancer patients can receive shorter surgery times.

Brachytherapy is a form of radiotherapy where a sealed radioactive source is placed in direct proximity to the tumour. This ensures that a high dose of radiation is applied to the area of cancer and radiation dose is minimised to normal healthy structures.

Various applicators are used to allow the radioactive source to travel into the body and then safely removed. This often requires insertion under general anaesthetic in a surgical environment. It used to take place in main theatres but now happens 'all under one roof' in brachytherapy.

Nicolai Greet, Radiotherapy Services Manager, explained what difference this new use of the suite would make to patients. She said: "Utilising the Brachytherapy Suite is capitalising on the excellent resources here at Southend for cancer care and ensuring we are using them as efficiently as possible, which benefits staff but most importantly is better for our patients.. It's a more dignified and better experience for them as they spend less time being wheeled to different areas of the hospital."

Now patients go from their ward to brachytherapy and then the recovery suite in the same area before going back to their ward. Previously patients had to go from ward to main theatres to have their applicators inserted, then to brachytherapy and then back to their ward. It is now a seamless journey cutting down the time patients spend on a trolley.

David Heaver, Clinical Services Manager, said: "This has been an excellent example of two different areas of the hospital, theatres and brachytherapy, working better together to improve patient care and improve their hospital experience. We've streamlined the process, which is better for the patient and staff involved in the surgery."

Southend Hospital performs more of these operations than anywhere else in the country, completing four of these specialised procedures each week, and is aiming to increase this number. It also means main theatres are freed up for patients requiring other forms of surgery, helping to speed up waiting times.

Imtiaz Ahmed, Radiotherapy and Cancer Service Clinical Lead, said: "Now Southend  Hospital is the cancer centre for Urology, this development has allowed the main theatres to be utilised for further cancer surgeries."


Image:Theatres and brachytherapy staff using the new theatre