On Friday 23 October senior figures from Great Western Hospitals, Brighter Futures, Oxford University Hospitals and construction company John Sisk & Son Ltd met on site for a socially-distanced celebration to mark the start of work on the OUH Swindon Radiotherapy Unit.
The project has been an aspiration for clinicians, health planners and local people for many years and this is another milestone in its delivery. Jason Dorsett, Chief Finance Officer at Oxford University Hospitals, and Dr Claire Hobbs, representing the Radiotherapy Service, joined Kevin McNamara, Chief Executive of Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Catherine Newman, Director of Fundraising at Brighter Futures, as they were shown around the site by Ajaz Shafi, Managing Director UK South of John Sisk & Son.
The five were shown progress so far and Claire Hobbs, the person who had worked on the project the longest, was asked to put a symbolic spade in the ground. Jason Dorsett, Chief Finance Officer at OUH, 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.”
Dr Claire Hobbs, Head of Radiotherapy at Oxford University Hospitals, said: “I am so delighted to be here today. 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.”
The Radiotherapy Centre feeds into exciting plans to continue to upgrade and expand a whole range of services on the Great Western Hospital site through the Trust’s Way Forward Programme, which will include an expanded and co-located urgent and emergency care service and a centre of excellence for rehabilitation.
Kevin McNamara, Chief Executive at Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, 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.”
Catherine Newman, Director of Fundraising at Brighter Futures, 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 forgot those who are sadly no longer with us but with us in spirit.”
Ajaz Shafi, Managing Director, UK South, John Sisk & Son, said: “John Sisk & Son is excited to mark the official ground-breaking of OUH Swindon Radiotherapy Centre. The Sisk team and our local supply chain partners have been actively on site for 12 weeks. We have made an advanced start on the foundations of the linear accelerator bunkers and our team and local supply chain partners are making great progress. We look forward to building upon our relationships with OUH, Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Brighter Futures (The Charity of Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust) and the local community in Swindon.”
It is estimated that the new centre will save over 13,000 journeys to Oxford every year, alongside anxiety, stress and precious time. The OUH Swindon Radiotherapy Centre, which will be built on the Great Western Hospital site, is an expansion of Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust’s radiotherapy service, currently provided solely from the Churchill Hospital in Oxford.
Oxford University Hospitals has invested £18.4 million in this project and local people have donated an incredible £2.9 million towards the specialist equipment needed to provide radiotherapy in Swindon, through Brighter Futures’ Radiotherapy Appeal.