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Zeroing in on the issue. Treating the bad, saving the good. In 2018, NHS will open its doors to the Christie NHS Foundation Trust Proton Beam Therapy Centre, the first of two new centres in England delivering high-energy proton beam therapy (PBT). This advanced and innovative form of radiotherapy will enable the NHS to treat patients with some of the most complex forms of cancer, whilst reducing the potential long-term effects of conventional radiotherapy, which is particularly important when treating children. It will provide yet another service from one of Europe’s largest and most prestigious cancer care centres.
NHS offers high-energy proton beam therapy to a select number of patients that are clinically assessed as being eligible, and they are flown to PBT centres overseas (USA and Switzerland) for treatment. Given that this treatment can last several months, this has proven very disruptive to patients’ lives and hugely expensive to the NHS. In 2012, the Department of Health and NHS England announced their intention to provide proton beam therapy within centres located in the UK. The government allocated £250m of capital funding to build two centres. The Christie NHS Foundation Trust in Manchester and University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust were chosen.
From the outset, the design approach was to focus on patient experience. Various measures were applied to create a warm and inviting space, aimed to reduce fear and anxiety. Natural daylighting and landscaping were given high priority, as well as a sense of community amongst the building’s users. The waiting spaces were positioned on external walls and courtyards, and the main waiting area designed as a winter garden, integrating light, vegetation and social interactivity. The paediatric waiting and recovery areas were designed to cater to children and their families, including their psychological wellbeing.
The facility will house three fully rotational gantries. The fourth room will be used for research with a fixed beam and will have the opportunity to be re-fit as a future treatment room designed to receive a fully rotational gantry Given the shallow bedrock and water table, the large 3-story concrete structure of the treatment block was placed at-grade and is situated in a dominant position near the hospital main entrance. This provided an opportunity to announce the facility’s importance to passers-by; so signage, feature lighting and quality cladding materials were used to showcase the building.