15 July 2009
Cutting the turf for the Macmillan Cancer Unit, based at Prince Charles Hospital, Merthyr Tydfil
Work has started on a brand new cancer unit for patients living in and around the Prince Charles Hospital catchment area. The Macmillan Cancer Unit, based at Prince Charles Hospital, Merthyr Tydfil, will provide vital chemotherapy treatment and support for patients in Merthyr, the Cynon Valley, south Powys and north Caerphilly.
The new unit, which will cost £1.4m to build, will provide a greatly improved state of the art environment for local cancer patients and represents a major investment by Macmillan Cancer Support in cancer services in the Valleys area.
Most of the money for the unit comes from a local appeal launched by Macmillan in 2003. Then, the charity hoped to raise £750,000 over a period of three years, but thanks to the response of local people and the support of local newspapers, the appeal raised just under £1m in 18 months. Macmillan Cancer Support and the Welsh Assembly Government are contributing an additional £200,000 each to meet the cost of the build. Cwm Taf NHS Trust has provided the land for the build and health professionals from Velindre NHS Trust will be supporting the scheme.
Cath Lindley, General Manager for Macmillan Cancer Support in Wales, said:
'This unit was made possible thanks to the generosity and hard work of local people in the South Wales Valleys. I’d like to thank everyone for their hard work in raising the funds which will transform the way local people receive cancer treatment.
'This state of the art unit will mean that for the most part cancer patients will no longer have to endure long journeys to Cardiff for their treatment, which will not only cut travel costs but will also save precious time and make it easier for friends, family and carers to accompany patients for their treatment.'
In addition to the unit itself, in association with Cwm Taf NHS Trust and Merthyr County Borough Council, Macmillan is making an additional investment of £841,000 in a number of key posts that will help support people affected by cancer in the Cwm Taf LHB area. These include:
Macmillan Cancer Unit Manager
Macmillan Lead Pharmacist
Macmillan Welfare Benefits Adviser
Macmillan Specialist Social Worker
Macmillan Head and Neck Clinical Nurse Specialist
Macmillan Palliative Care Nurse
Cath Lindley added:
'I’m delighted to be able to announce the additional £841,000 investment on behalf of Macmillan in the area. As well as medical issues, we know that cancer can cause all kinds of financial and practical problems for patients and their families, and that they need specialist advice and support. The Macmillan Welfare Rights Adviser and Specialist Social Worker will help patients to navigate their way through the benefits and social care system so that they get the support they need when they need it.'
The unit is a result of a unique partnership between Macmillan Cancer Support, Cwm Taf NHS Trust, Velindre NHS Trust, Caerphilly Local Health Board and the Welsh Assembly Government.
Edwina Hart, Minister for Health and Social Services said:
'Cancer continues to be one of Wales’ biggest killer diseases with one in three people diagnosed with cancer at some stage in their lives. Swift diagnosis and treatment greatly reduces the anxiety experienced by patients and their carers.
'This new Macmillan Cancer Support Chemotherapy Unit will improve access to treatment locally for cancer patients and help enhance their quality of life. The new unit will also increase the number of patients being seen and treated - helping to meet our waiting times targets. I am grateful to Macmillan Cancer Support and the local community for their generous contribution to this service improvement, and I am pleased that the Assembly Government and Cwm Taf NHS Trust are able to support this development to improve both care for patients and the working environment for staff.'
Mrs Margaret Foster, Chief Executive of Cwm Taf NHS Trust said
‘We are delighted that, after so long, the unit is now becoming a reality. We look forward to the opening next year when the contributions of the public, Macmillan and Welsh Assembly come to fruition. It is impressive that money for this project was raised locally in record time.'
Allison Williams, Chief Executive of Velindre NHS Trust said:
'This is a tremendous example of partnership in action with local people, Macmillan and the NHS working together for the benefit of patients. The ability to balance clinical excellence with local service provision that this development offers will undoubtedly reduce the burden of travel for many cancer patients and their families and improve their overall experience of their treatment.'
Contractor, Willmott Dixon, will start work on the site in the grounds of Prince Charles Hospital on Monday 6 July and it is expected to take around nine months to complete. The unit is expected to open to patients in spring 2010.
Adrian Brewer, regional director of Willmott Dixon in Wales said:
'A turf cutting ceremony is an important milestone in the construction industry which celebrates the start of work on a project. On this particular scheme, the start of work is especially important as it has been long awaited and so much has gone into getting it off the ground.
'Construction is set to begin in the next week with the refurbishment of an existing building and a new adjoining single storey building. The unit is scheduled to be completed next spring.
'Willmott Dixon is already on site working on a £29m refurbishment at Prince Charles Hospital and it is great to be able to continue this relationship to further improve the local facilities.'
Councillor Jeff Edwards, Leader of Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council said:
'On behalf of the Council I would like to congratulate the local Macmillan Committees for their hard work and dedication in raising the funds to enable this cancer unit to be built, the public for their generosity and the NHS for supporting the implementation of the project in meeting the needs of local people who are affected by this disease.'