Cancer care unit to get £800k upgrade

Judith Smith, a Macmillan nurse consultant and lead clinician for cancer, with Karen Wilson, fundraising manager for The Difference, outside the existing unit.
Judith Smith, a Macmillan nurse consultant and lead clinician for cancer, with Karen Wilson, fundraising manager for The Difference, outside the existing unit.

Plans to revamp the Macmillan centre at the Borders General Hospital will make marked improvements to the way cancer patients are cared for, according to medics.

Judith Smith, a Macmillan nurse consultant and lead clinician for cancer, says the proposals for an £800,000 extension to the current building at the Melrose hospital will be a big step forward.

How the new unit will look from the garden at the back of the hospital.

How the new unit will look from the garden at the back of the hospital.

She told the Southern: “The original Macmillan Centre at the Borders General Hospital was opened in 2003.

“Since then, treatments have become more complex, and we are treating more patients, so although the facility we have is still quite nice, it is now not as fit for purpose as it was then, so we have had to look at how we provide care today and the changes in the service we provide since the unit opened.

“The real difference will be how we use the space.

“There will be a quiet space so that nurses are not interrupted when they are checking complex drugs, which will improve efficiency, and there will be more private care spaces for the patients.

“This is important as in 2003, we injected the majority of drugs into a vein in the arm, whereas now they are often injected into the stomach, so more privacy is required.

“It will also help the flow of patients through the unit, reducing unnecessary delays.

“Most importantly, once the building work starts, we will still function as normal, and patient care will not be compromised by the refurbishment.”

Karen Wilson, fundraising manager for the Difference, the hospital’s charity, said: “It has very much been a partnership with Macmillan and NHS Borders.

“We have a proposed set of plans which will see the centre extended and reconfigured to allow more treatment spaces, better patient flow and a dedicated drugs preparation area.

“From a funding point of view, Macmillan has said it will contribute half the cost, and the other half will come from the Difference.

“We have some charity money existing from the cancer centre endowment fund, while the remaining cash – £275,000 – will be raised by a fundraising campaign, the details of which will be released shortly.

“We are looking for construction to start in January, with the newly-refurbished centre officially opening by November next year.

“We would like to assure patients that the centre will remain operational throughout as it will be a phased construction.”

Macmillan’s head of services in Scotland, Janice Preston, said: “Macmillan is delighted to be a part of this work, which will improve the care for people with cancer in the Borders.

“Macmillan wants to ensure everyone affected by cancer in the Borders receives the best care and in the most supportive environment.

“The refurbishment of the Macmillan cancer information and support centre will also help us improve the much-needed support offered to patients and their friends and family.

“Our significant contribution of £400,000 is thanks to the continued support of people locally who work so hard to raise funds.

“We simply couldn’t do it without them, and we are extremely grateful.”

If anyone would like more information, or is interested in helping raise money for the cancer centre refurbishment, they can call Karen on 01896 825542 or visit www.thedifference.org.uk