High Peak patients to benefit from new £23 million cancer centre

Artists impression of the new Christie Cancer Centre at Macclesfield
Artists impression of the new Christie Cancer Centre at Macclesfield

Plans for a new £23 million cancer centre that will benefit High Peak patients have been revealed - as a fundraising appeal is launched.

The Christie charity has today launched a fundraising appeal for the new state of the art centre, which will be built in the grounds of Macclesfield District General Hospital and mean some patients from the High Peak will no longer need to travel into south Manchester for treatment.

High Peak mum Gemma Ellis, who was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2017, has welcomed the news.

High Peak mum Gemma Ellis, who was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2017, has welcomed the news.

The centre will offer specialist access to radiotherapy, chemotherapy, holistic support and information services, outpatient care, palliative care, and - for the first time - early phase clinical trials, meaning patients will be the first in the country to access new treatments as they become available.

Some cancer care is currently available in Macclesfield but many patients still travel to The Christie for the majority of their appointments. For some, this can mean a journey time of two hours of more.

Many patients remain under the care of The Christie for at least five years, with regular appointments through that time. On average, each new patient referred to Macclesfield will have over 25 appointments throughout the course of their treatment.

For radiotherapy in particular, patients have to attend hospital for treatment on a daily basis for up to six weeks or longer.

The news has been welcomed by High Peak mum Gemma Ellis, who was first diagnosed with breast cancer in February 2017.

The 36-year-old, of Chapel-en-le-Frith, underwent six cycles of chemotherapy at The Christie in Withington, followed by surgery at Stepping Hill hospital, and then a further 15 sessions of radiotherapy at The Christie over a four week period.

A year later, in February 2018, she found out she had developed secondary breast cancer. She is now on an ongoing course of hormone treatment including trastuzumab (Herceptin).

Now retired from her previous job as an NHS discharge co-coordinator in Bakewell, Derbyshire, Gemma is married to husband Ben a roofer and they have two girls, Ruby aged 9 and Scarlett 7.

“The standard of care from The Christie has been exceptional,” she said. “I knew I was in the best place for my treatment, but having to travel so far was very disruptive. It meant I was not able to get home in time for school runs and was having to ring people to ask them to collect Ruby and Scarlett, which was stressful for me and unsettling for them.

“A Christie cancer centre in Macclesfield would have made a huge difference to me and my family. I’m delighted that the new centre in Macclesfield will also offer clinical trials as I know that so many patients now benefit from them.”

Dr Andrew Sykes, consultant clinical oncologist at The Christie and the lead doctor for the project, said: “Whilst patients and families are prepared to travel to The Christie for specialist services, we also understand that in reality many would prefer to have those services locally where possible. It saves valuable time and money and can make a difficult time much easier.

“The new centre in Macclesfield will provide the highest standard of cancer care for people in East Cheshire, but far closer to their homes than we have ever offered before.”

It is expected there will be around 40,000 patient visits each year to the centre, including patients from areas of Cheshire, North Staffordshire and the High Peak area.

The centre will be purpose built to meet the needs of frail people and those with cogitative impairment (difficulty remembering, learning new things and concentrating) or dementia, with things like additional grab rails, high colour contrast walls, day and night clocks, calming environments, large signage, and falls reduction measures. Staff will have frailty and cognitive training to enable them to support patients with additional needs.

Work on the two storey building is expected to start later this year with the aim of opening during summer 2021.

Director of fundraising at The Christie, Louise Hadley, said: “The Christie charity provides enhanced services over and above what the NHS funds and the support we receive makes a huge difference to the care and treatment that we provide to our patients and their families.

“This new Christie Centre at Macclesfield is an ambitious project to transform cancer care for thousands of patients who use our services every year. To make it happen we need to raise £23m. We’re planning lots of exciting fundraising events over the next 12 months and we’d love the people of East Cheshire and beyond to really get behind this fundraising campaign and get involved.”

And John Wilbraham, chief executive of East Cheshire NHS Trust which operates Macclesfield Hospital, added: “I am really excited about this news and the benefit patients will get from this local service is fantastic.

"We have a great and long-standing relationship with The Christie and this multi-million pound investment on the Macclesfield Hospital site aligns with our ambition to provide local services to the standards our patients deserve and those our staff expect to deliver.”

For details of how to support the fundraising appeal, visit www.christies.org/macclesfield.