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Work gets underway on new Dyson Cancer Centre at the RUH

A groundbreaking event has marked the official start of construction work for the new Dyson Cancer Centre at the Royal United Hospitals’ (RUH) Combe Park site. The new Centre will provide a cancer services hub for half a million people in the South West.

Once complete, the Dyson Cancer Centre will bring together the majority of the RUH’s cancer services, including research, under one roof, providing oncology, chemotherapy and radiotherapy services and a 22-bed inpatient ward.

Cara Charles-Barks, Chief Executive of the RUH said: “It’s fantastic to see work get underway on this truly special building, which will make such a difference for our community. We’ve worked closely with patients, staff and those with an interest in cancer services to design the Dyson Cancer Centre. It will be a nurturing and therapeutic environment where our staff can continue to provide the highest quality care and our patients and their loved ones can receive all the support they need in one purpose designed building.”

Representatives of patients, staff and construction partner Kier as well as key fundraisers the Forever Friends Appeal and Macmillan Cancer were on site to mark the occasion.

Sir James Dyson paid a visit to the RUH earlier in the year, as demolition work to prepare the site for the new Centre drew to a close. Sir James and Deirdre Dyson have a strong connection to the RUH having welcomed two of their children, Sam and Jake, at the hospital. The James Dyson Foundation contributed £4m to the overall cost of the new Centre.

Sir James Dyson, Founder and Chief Engineer at Dyson said: “The Dyson Centre for Neonatal Care demonstrated the very significant effect that design and architecture can have on the recovery of patients. The bright, well designed spaces quickly proved their value to babies, something that we hope to replicate in the new Dyson Cancer Centre.

“Cancer is the most terrible of diseases, but by bringing cutting edge technology, design features, natural light and therapeutic green spaces, we hope this new building will support patients, families and staff through harrowing times.”

In addition to the generous donation from the Dyson Foundation, the RUH’s Forever Friends Appeal raised a further £6m. Rhyannon Boyd, Head of Fundraising said: “We are thrilled to see these works starting and we are extremely grateful to each and every one of the 8,500 supporters who have helped raise funds for the Dyson Cancer Centre, we couldn’t have done it without them.”

The new Centre will also include a specially designed Macmillan Wellbeing Hub. Richard Pugh, Macmillan Cancer Head of Partnerships Wales & South West said: “The Hub will be a non-clinical, calming space, offering practical and emotional support to people living with cancer. It will be there for everyone – from people with cancer to their carers and their families. It will help them every step of the way through cancer from diagnosis, during treatment, in recovery, and at the end of life.”

The remainder of the funding for the Dyson Cancer Centre will be provided by the government.

Health Minister Jo Churchill said: “Delivering cancer care is, and has been a top priority, throughout the pandemic and we remain committed to delivering on our NHS Long Term Plan to save 55,000 more lives from cancer every year by 2028.

“I’m delighted work is beginning on this new cancer facility at the RUH which draws together services and includes a Macmillan Wellbeing Hub, improving NHS cancer services for half a million patients in the South West for many years to come.

“The centre is part of the biggest hospital building programme in a generation, which we’re funding to deliver 40 new hospitals by 2030.”

The groundbreaking event marked the next major milestone in a significant programme of work to transform services and facilities located on the older, northern part of the RUH’s site. The Trust is once again working with construction partner Kier who have played a significant role in the changing face of the RUH.

David Snell, Strategic Healthcare Director at Kier Regional Building Western & Wales said:

“We are delighted to continue our work with the RUH, who we have worked with since 2013. Over that time we have worked closely with the Trust on the phased redevelopment of the hospital, including delivering the William Herschel building – a new modern pathology lab and mortuary, the Forbes Fraser Pharmacy and the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases (RNHRD) and Brownsword Therapies Centre which opened in September 2019.

The groundbreaking date also marked 10 years to the day since another outstanding facility opened at the RUH, the Dyson Centre for Neonatal Care, part funded by the James Dyson Foundation.

Since opening, the award-winning neonatal centre has cared for around 500 babies and families a year, in surroundings that provide a beneficial healing environment for babies and reduce stress levels experienced by their parents. The difference has been demonstrated by the research undertaken comparing the old and new units.

After seeing the success this considered architecture had on medical care, James Dyson was motivated to support RUH with this approach for cancer services. Hear from Sir James and RUH staff following the James Dyson Foundation’s visit to RUH earlier this year here.

Those interested in the new Dyson Cancer Centre can find out more at a virtual event on Wednesday 28 July where there will be the opportunity to hear from some of the team involved in the project and have any questions answered. Email: ruh-tr.capitalprojects@nhs.net if you would like to attend.