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Staff and patients to take part in scrap car rally for cancer

A team of doctors, nurses, management and patients are set to take part in a major scrap car rally to raise funds to increase the use of a revolutionary mobile radiotherapy machine at Southampton's university hospitals.

The 'Scrap to the future car rally' will see 15 road legal scrap cars – each with a value of under £500 – leave the new multi-storey car park at Southampton General Hospital on Friday (6 October) for Loch Lomond with a variety of Top Gear-style challenges en route.

The event has been organised by patient support group and PLANETS, which is a fund of Southampton Hospital Charity and fundraises for pioneering cancer services.

Last year saw the charity fund enable University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust to become the first in the UK to introduce Mobetron, the first mobile system able to deliver radiotherapy during surgery, known as intra-operative electron beam radiotherapy (IOERT).

IOERT is an intensive form of targeted radiation given at the time of surgery to treat a wide variety of advanced cancers that are difficult to remove and treat.

Using Mobetron technology, the radiation is given by high energy electron beams delivered with precision to a very specific location inside the body immediately after a cancer has been removed.

This enables surgeons and oncology specialists to deliver much higher doses of the anti-cancer treatment to areas at a high risk of recurrence without causing damage to surrounding healthy tissue and organs seen with conventional external beam radiotherapy.

After a successful first year, the PLANETS team – who have raised £750,000 for services at UHS over the past six years – are aiming to raise £25,000 from the rally to upgrade a second theatre at Southampton General Hospital to double the number of patients able to receive IOERT.

The rally, which will see one team made up of UHS chief executive Fiona Dalton, medical director Dr Derek Sandeman and finance director David French, will include a stop at Popham Airfield in Andover where the teams will participate in a series of driving skills tests on a timed course.

After a stop off in Leeds, the cars will travel to Loch Lomond where PLANETS will host a black tie dinner and auction before the vehicles are sent to scrap on Sunday with all proceeds going towards the charity fund's theatre upgrade appeal.

PLANETS was co-founded in 2010 by surgeon Neil Pearce alongside some of his former patients and colleagues. The fund has already secured £13,000 of its £25,000 target.

Mr Pearce, now associate medical director for patient safety at UHS, said: “When we introduced IOERT in Southampton last year it was hailed as a landmark moment for the treatment of advanced cancer in across the UK.

"We now want to extend its use into a second theatre and the amazing team of volunteers at PLANETS – many of them former patients – have organised this fantastic event which promises to be extremely fun as well as action-packed."

The 15 cars will leave the new 800-space multi-storey car park at Southampton General Hospital at 11.30am on Friday (6 October). For more information, visit www.planetscharity.org or make a donation at www.justgiving.com/teams/scraptothefuture.




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