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OUH Radiotherapy Centre @ Swindon: One year on

Nearly 600 people have received cancer treatment in the first year of the OUH Radiotherapy Centre @ Swindon being open to patients.

The centre, part of Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and located on the Great Western Hospital site, was ceremonially opened in June 2022 and staff cared for their first patients on 11 October 2022.

Since then, as of 11 October 2023, 593 patients have been treated, involving 6,606 radiotherapy treatments and 544 CT scans.

Based on a 70-mile round trip from Swindon-Oxford, this has saved people driving approximately 500,000 miles – about 173.6 tonnes CO2e – and, based on a 2.5 hour-round trip, a total of 17,900 hours, or 744 days.

The centre is an expansion of OUH's radiotherapy service which, until its opening last year, was provided solely from the Churchill Hospital in Oxford, meaning many people can receive important treatment closer to home and without needing to travel to Oxford.

It houses two state-of-the-art linear accelerators, used for external beam radiotherapy, and a specialist radiotherapy CT scanner among other equipment.

'I could just pop to hospital'

One of those patients to benefit from the OUH Radiotherapy Centre @ Swindon is Maz Drew.

After discovering a lump, the 39-year-old Assistant Headteacher from Swindon was diagnosed with stage 2 grade 3 triple negative breast cancer in 2022.

Maz has received her treatment between GWH and the OUH Radiotherapy Centre. In total, she has had 19 cycles of chemotherapy, a lumpectomy, 15 radiotherapy treatments and is now completing six months of chemotherapy tablets.

She is now cancer free and in her final stages of preventative treatment.

Maz said: "The radiotherapy service in Swindon has made such a huge difference as I have been able to work throughout my treatment.

"I was so glad to be able to just pop to the hospital in Swindon to have my treatment and get back to work. Had I had to go to Oxford I would have been out of work for the best part of the day and  would have needed to take a significant amount of time off work."

She added: "I had the best treatment during radiotherapy. Everyone was so kind and welcoming, and the radiotherapists got to know me and always made me feel comfortable.

"The team were so flexible and when I needed to change the timings of some of my appointments due to work they were always obliging and helpful.

"They have been amazing and I'm so thankful for all their care and support."

Maz's father and father-in-law both died of cancer within four days of each other last year. Her father had to travel to Oxford for his treatment, something Maz has not had to do.

She said: "My dad had cancer five times and always had to go to Oxford for his treatment. We were unable to help him with his travel as much as we would have liked – it was really hard on him, and we as a family felt helpless."

Jo Watts, Operational Manager at OUH Radiotherapy Centre @ Swindon, said: "We are so pleased to have been able to help the hundreds of patients over the last 12 months, providing them care much closer to home that makes such a positive difference to them and their families.

"From the very start of this project, the people of Swindon really got behind the centre, and we are forever grateful for the incredible fundraising by them, Brighter Futures and the Rotary Clubs of Swindon and surrounding areas.

"This centre was years in the making and, thanks to the support from a dedicated team of staff and our partners, we are so proud to be celebrating its first anniversary. We are looking forward to providing care to the people in and around Swindon who need us."

Kevin McNamara, Chief Executive at Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: "It's great to be able to mark this significant milestone after many years of hard work to bring radiotherapy to Swindon.

"With many people in the local area facing cancer and needing the life-saving treatment, it was really important that we did all we could to help make the experience that bit easier but reducing the need for a 70-mile round trip.

"I'm really pleased that so many people have already benefited from our local Radiotherapy Centre, and hope it continues to bring comfort to patients and their families for many years to come."

OUH invested £18.4 million in this project and local people donated £2.9 million towards the specialist equipment needed to provide radiotherapy in Swindon, through the charity Brighter Futures' Radiotherapy Appeal.

Cat Weaver, Associate Director of Fundraising and Voluntary Services at Brighter Futures, said: "The opening of the Radiotherapy Centre was a huge moment for us in Swindon, as so many incredible local people had got behind the £2.9million appeal to make it happen. We saw people jump out of planes, trek great distances, hold bake sales and take part in community events all to raise the funds we needed to provide additional equipment for the centre.

"I'm really pleased to see that all of the equipment that was bought through our successful appeal is being used to help deliver radiotherapy treatment. That includes a £461,000 CT scanner, that we were able to purchase as an extra special addition, thanks to the incredible efforts of local people who really got behind out fundraising efforts."

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