Posted on Friday 15th April 2011
Oncology staff at the site of the planned extension
Cancer patients will benefit from brand new facilities at the Cumberland Infirmary after patients and supporters raised more than £300,000 for an extension and refurbishment to the Oncology Department.
The number of cancer patients referred to the department has increased dramatically from 646 in 1986 to 1,118 in 2009. As a result, the facilities had become cramped and no longer fit for purpose.
It was decided that an extension was the best option and fundraising began in earnest two years ago.
So far more than £270,000 has been raised, and a further £70,000 has been pledged from North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust’s general Charitable Funds pot.
Work began this week on the extension, which will also see the current facilities refurbished, with the layout of the reception area and waiting room remodelled to improve patient privacy.
Radiotherapy Manager Gwen Barker explained: “The reason for the extension is because our facilities have become so crowded as the number of patients has increased over the years. When the department opened in 1986 we had one consultant and now we have four, so we treat a lot more patients who previously would have had to travel out of the area. For example, prostate cancer patients used to have to go to Newcastle but now we see them here.
“Over the years there have been no significant alterations to the department for Chemotherapy, other than the addition of a small temporary cabin, so we are really excited about this extension.
“We hope the extra space will allow us to create a much calmer and more relaxing atmosphere for cancer patients who sometimes have to spend the whole day with us.”
The money for the redevelopment has been raised by former patients, relatives and supporters through a huge range of activities, including sponsored walks, bike rides, musical evenings, charity balls and even a wedding fair.
Gwen added: “Lots of people we treat want to give something back, even if it is just a donation of a few pounds. Even though we have reached our fundraising target for the building work, the money still keeps coming in and we would like to think this is just the first stage of the redevelopment. We would love to build a further extension and create a quiet courtyard area outside for patients and their families.”
Work began on the extension this week and is expected to be completed by August.