Southampton to receive share of £130 million national cancer funding
University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust (UHS) has been named among the first trusts in the country set to benefit from a £130 million national investment to upgrade and replace radiotherapy equipment.
The announcement was made today by NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens at the Britain Against Cancer conference in London, where he said 15 hospital trusts will receive a share of the funding.
In addition, he launched a £200 million scheme to improve local cancer services through NHS England’s regional cancer alliances, which will be invited to bid for support for projects.
Around four in 10 of all NHS cancer patients are treated with radiotherapy, which typically uses high-energy radiation from machines called linear accelerators – known as linacs.
It is recommended linacs are replaced after around ten years in operation, though the last major national investment in NHS radiotherapy machines was in the early 2000s.
Earlier this year, UHS launched a £20 million linac replacement programme which will see the installation of six new machines, two CT scanners and radiotherapy planning software – with the trust expected to receive up to £3 million from NHS England’s investment scheme.
The announcement follows the trust’s selection by NHS England in July as one of only 16 centres to carry out advanced stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) and radiotherapy (SRT) for brain tumours using modified linacs.
UHS has introduced a number of new forms of treatment in recent years including intensity modulated radiation therapy and image-guided radiation therapy and, in June, unveiled the UK’s first Mobetron machine, a revolutionary mobile device which can deliver electron beam radiotherapy during surgery for cancer patients.
Dr Catherine Heath, clinical lead for oncology at UHS, said: “This funding announcement is excellent news for our radiotherapy service and patients across the south and further afield as it forms part of our major linac replacement programme.
“We have seen some fantastic developments in cancer treatment for patients at our hospitals in recent years so it is essential we remain at the forefront of advances in technology and equipment – and this funding, along with our wider investment programme, will ensure that happens.”
Matthew Hayes, clinical director for NHS England’s Wessex Cancer Alliance and a consultant urological surgeon at UHS, added: “This is excellent news for patients in the region living with cancer and for our hardworking staff.
“The replacement of ageing equipment will mean cancer services are more fit for purpose and will see improved outcomes and a better experience for our patients.”