People of Huntingdonshire are being urged to support a new fundraising campaign for an extended Woodlands Cancer Centre.

Work on the extension to the Huntingdon hospital unit was due to start today (Wednesday) and is expected to take about 50 weeks.

Macmillan Cancer Support has teamed up with Hinchingbrooke Health Care NHS Trust for a new appeal to raise £1.2million - half the total cost of the project.

Jessica Levin, Cambridgeshire fundraising manager for Macmillan, appealed to people in Huntingdon and the surrounding area to join the fundraising effort.

She said: “We hope that as many individuals, groups of friends, families, schools and businesses, will play a part in helping us to reach the huge target we have set ourselves to make the dream of the new Macmillan Woodlands Centre a reality.”

The new centre is being designed to cope with an increase in patients of up to 3,000 a year by 2016, and to remove the need for travel to other hospitals.

More money is required to deliver an environment for treating them that is top of the range. New chemotherapy chairs, at £3,500 each, will mean 15 people will be able to receive treatment at once, rather than the current nine, and there will be two new individual treatment rooms. There will also be more space for relatives and friends.

Patients needing transfusions will be able to receive them at Woodlands rather than elsewhere in the hospital.

The plans also include a new reception and information areas, a sensory garden and space for complementary therapies, as well as a cafe.

Work will be carried out in three phases by Beaufort Construction, the company responsible for other projects in the hospital such as the Orchard Centre and Audiology and Ear, Nose and Throat department and the nursery, which is currently being built.

The need for the extension is well documented. More than 850 people a year in Huntingdonshire are diagnosed with cancer and more than 5,600 are living with or beyond that diagnosis.

Lynda Hall, Macmillan lead nurse for cancer and palliative care at Hinchingbrooke, said: “When I started working here in 1995, we would see two or three patients a day for treatment. Now it can be as many as 30 patients coming through the unit.

“We have been fast running out of space and I am very excited to know that we will soon be able to give the patients of Huntingdon and the surrounding area the kind of environment they deserve as they go through their cancer journey.”

Since 2013, more than £600,000 has been raised. A further £600,000 has come from the Hinchingbrooke trust’s Charitable Funds Committee, which includes a substantial Temple Bowyer legacy.

Reflecting on what has been achieved by fundraisers, Hisham Abdel-Rahman, chief executive of Hinchingbrooke Health Care NHS Trust, says: “We are delighted to be making this exciting announcement, but it has only been made possible because of some extraordinary local fundraising by our staff and local people in recent years and now a partnership with Macmillan Cancer Support. Together we are working hard to provide local people with cancer services that are second to none.”
INFORMATION: To support the £1.2 million fundraising appeal, call Macmillan on 0300 1000200 or visit www.macmillan.org.uk/hinchingbrooke.