New cancer care centre officially opens on north coast
- Credit: Danielle Booden
A £4.85 million cancer care centre that will bring treatment and support services closer to home is officially opening today.
The North Norfolk Macmillan Centre at Cromer and District Hospital has been built as part of the local healthcare trust's response to predictions that demand for local cancer services could increase by more than 200pc over ten years.
The centre has already started seeing patients - but the official opening takes place on Friday (October 15), ahead of a community open day for the public on the following day.
Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) chairman David White and Macmillan Chief Operating Officer Simon Phillips are due to address guests including North Norfolk MP Duncan Baker, before cutting a ceremonial ribbon and joining tours of the centre, which incorporates an original 1930s hospital block formerly known as the Davison Unit.
Three new clinic rooms and two minor procedure rooms will allow Cromer Hospital to offer an additional 10,000 outpatient appointments annually as well as more space for cancer diagnostics.
In the main hospital, meanwhile, more space will be freed up for clinical teams to deliver an extra 600 surgical procedures in dermatology, urology, vascular surgery and pain management.
The centre, which features original murals by award-winning local artist Eloise O’Hare, was designed to feel less clinical than a traditional hospital environment.
Funding for the centre, which was designed by LSI Architects, was provided jointly by Macmillan Cancer Support (£2.2m), the Norfolk and Norwich Hospitals Charity (£1.8m) and the NNUH NHS Foundation Trust, while a donation of £600,000 from the Cromer Community and Hospital Friends has been used to purchase equipment.
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Emma Tingley, head of partnerships, Macmillan Cancer Support in the East of England, said: “The opening of the North Norfolk Macmillan Centre means there is no longer a need to set aside time and money for regular journeys to Norwich, nor is there any shortage of the practical, emotional and financial support that people need close at hand to navigate the chaos of a cancer diagnosis."
'Countless trips to Norwich'
Alison Hamilton, from Bacton, said her late partner Peter was "fortunate to receive excellent care and treatment at Cromer Hospital during the final years of his life" but the limited cancer services meant it wasn’t always possible to have all the tests, surgery and treatment they needed closer to home.
“At one point we were both living with cancer and having to make countless round trips to Norwich for care, which was exhausting and only added to the stress that came with having a life-threatening illness," she said.
“Now, people who find themselves in the same position I did, whether as a carer or a patient, know they have a centre nearby where they can go for their check-ups, tests, treatments and minor procedures, and at the same time seek expert advice and support.
"Having all of that under one roof, and in such a nice environment, is more than a small blessing for local people living with cancer.”
The centre's opening is timely, coming just as the NNUH was revealed to be the worst in England for seeing suspected breast cancer patients.
There has also been a spike in cancer being caught late in Norfolk hospitals.