Spectacular cancer centre opens after £1.3m refit

It all started as a fund-raising event for a small conservatory extension to the cancer centre at Southport and Formby District General Hospital.

Above: Exterior of the extension to the MDU.

But three years after a ball to raise money for the project, the unit opened in spectacular fashion this week extended, refurbished and newly-equipped at a cost of £1.3m to meet the needs of patients across north Sefton and West Lancashire.

“It’s bright, light, airy and very spacious with a lovely citrus colour scheme that really lifts the spirit – everyone is delighted with it,” said Sister Julie Marshall who manages the centre, known locally as the Medical Day Unit (MDU).

Patients have been treated elsewhere at Southport and Ormskirk hospitals while the seven-month rebuilding project was undertaken. Southport-treated patients are using the new centre immediately and Clatterbridge Cancer Centre patients who are being treated as Ormskirk hospital will return after Christmas.

Above: A panorama of the treatment room

The Marina Dalglish Appeal and West Lancashire Community Hospice Association each gave £500,000 towards the project. Numerous other organisations and hundreds of individuals also generously supported the work.

Trust staff members Michelle Roberts and Lynn Sprigings, who organised the original fund-raising ball were joined by patients, supporters and other staff to cut a ribbon to mark the operational opening of the centre.

Michelle, who supports medical secretarial staff at Southport hospital, said: “I’d been treated in the old unit for Hodgkinson’s lymphoma and Lynn and I had the idea to raise funds for a conservatory but we never imagined it would turn into something like this!”

The ball was held at the Floral Hall in spring 2010 which led to the two charities hearing about the women’s plans and ultimately giving £500,000 each for a much bigger project.

Above: The waiting room

The work sees the centre significantly expanded in size as well as adding a light, airy semi-circular treatment area for patients, some of whom require up to eight hours of chemotherapy at a time. There are also more consulting rooms and a more comfortable waiting area.

Demand for chemotherapy treatments has grown by up to 15% a year since the medical day unit was last refurbished in 2005. This has been driven by people living longer lives and a growth in new treatments for cancer.

Sister Marshall said: “The new unit means we can continue to treat more people locally rather than them facing long journeys to specialist centres elsewhere.”

Above: Laura Mercer, Head of Nursing (Medicine and Urgent care), and Sister Julie Marshall, MDU manager, in the treatment room

Trust chairman Sir Ron Watson CBE added: “This is a magnificent achievement for which all those who have contributed should feel immensely proud. It is also a spectacular new setting that splendidly complements the outstanding care the staff this unit are known for.”

An official opening of the centre will be held in the New Year.

Main picture (top) shows Trust staff members Michelle Roberts and Lynn Sprigings cutting the ribbon into the treatment room watched by Sir Ron Watson CBE (left), former patients, supporters and staff

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