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News archive - February 2016

A new era for cancer care

A new era for cancer care

Work has begun on site to build the UK’s first proton beam therapy centre.

Designed by Atkins, the facility in Newport, Wales, marks the start of a new approach to cancer treatment, delivered in a building designed solely around the patient experience.

The 10,000sq m development involves the refurbishment of an existing building, designed by Atkins in 2006, and the addition of two new wings, which will house radiotherapy and proton beam therapy treatments.

Known as the Celtic Springs Cancer Centre, it is the first of three proton beam facilities planned for the UK. As well as the Newport facility, Proton Partners International, which will run the centre, also plans to build units in Newcastle and London, as well as a fourth in Abu Dhabi.

Speaking to hdm this week, Mike Bool, the chief architect behind the project, said: “The idea is that each of the centres will be consistent so that patients can drop into any one to get their treatment.

“In terms of design, it was about taking a step back and making the building very patient centred. It will be built very much around patient flow and the patient journey.”

Using Macmillan environmental quality guidance, the team has made the most of the existing building, utilising natural light where possible and linking to nature and the outside spaces.

“When patients arrive they will go to a main reception area, from where they will move along clearly-marked routes to their treatment spaces,” said Bool.

“Once in the individual treatment areas, there are secondary waiting spaces with kitchens and external gardens, as well as treatment and consultation rooms and diagnostic areas.”

The centre will provide all the traditional cancer care treatments, such as PET and CT scanning, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, but will also include proton beam technology.

“From arrival to treatment, the exterior and interior of the building maintain a calming atmosphere to help patients overcome the inevitable anxiety associated with cancer diagnosis, treatment and medical institutions in general,” said Bool.

The construction approach will use pre-cast concrete and off-site manufacturing processes where possible to limit the overall impact of the development and to create a building that sits well within its surroundings.

The internal finish will also help to create a more-relaxing environment for patients.

Louise Hart, Atkins’ lead interior designer on Celtic Springs said: “We have not yet chosen our suppliers, but our plan for the interiors is that we want the patient experience to be as far away from what you would expect a cancer centre to be as possible.

“The interior design approach is about making spaces that are interesting and stimulating, with things to look at rather than blank walls.

“The right types of light and furnishing will be key in helping us to produce a development that is more like a spa hotel than a clinical hospital.

“This new centre is really going to offer something different where people can expect excellence in terms of services and the overall patient experience.”

The centre will treat up to 700 people every year and is being supported by the Wales Life Science Investment Fund established by the Welsh Government and managed by Arthurian Life Sciences.

Visiting the site as work began, Edwina Hart, the Minister for Economy, Science and Transport for the Welsh Government, said: “This is certainly an important milestone in what is a significant investment by Proton Partners to transform cancer care in the UK.”

Mike Moran, chief executive of Proton Partners International, added: “Today marks an important step in our plans to improve cancer care in the UK and I am proud that Wales is leading the way.

“Our centres will offer proton beam therapy, imaging, radiotherapy and chemotherapy - delivering a fully-comprehensive level of cancer care tailored to fit the different needs of each patient.

“Later this year in our Newport centre we will be able to start treating patients with traditional radiotherapy, and proton beam therapy will be available in 2017.

“Our overall aim is not just to provide cutting-edge treatment, but we also hope to herald a new era of cancer provision and drive improvements in cancer care in the UK.”

Across the world proton beam therapy has been shown to deliver significant results for patients, especially in lowering side effects. There are currently no operational proton beam therapy facilities in the UK and the demand for more specialised cancer care is growing.

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