Plans for a new £216m cancer research hospital in Cambridge are currently under government review.
If approved the seven storey building would integrate care for cancer patients with ground-breaking research from Cambridge University researchers.
The building would be split with 80 per cent used as clinical space, and 20 per cent used for research.
The clinic spaces will consist of the three wards, totalling 77 beds:
- Oncology and haemato-oncology ward
- Bone marrow transplant ward
- Teenage and young adults ward
The patient-centred areas will also include a large outpatients’ department, a day chemotherapy unit, cancer diagnostics and assessment, and the Cambridge Breast Unit.
The hospital would also be home to three key research centres. The first is the precision research centre, which would utilise physics, chemistry, engineering and mathematics in order to provide patients with better care and allow for better decision-making.
The second is the early cancer detection centre, which, again,would use physics, chemistry, engineering and mathematics to help diagnose cancer sooner, by helping to bring research into the community.
Finally the third centre would be the precision breast cancer programme, which is already established at Addenbrooke’s as the world’s first of its kind.
Professor Richard Gilbertson, director of the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Centre, and head of the Cambridge University Department of Oncology spoke to Cambridgeshire Live about the impact this new hospital could have.
Professor Gilbertson said: “The idea for a cancer hospital in Cambridge has been on the books for at least 15 years, and it was primarily driven by the fact that Addenbrooke’s is a fantastic NHS trust hospital, but Cambridge is one of the fastest growing cities in the UK and the population is ageging.
“Demand is rapidly outstripping what is needed, especially in cancer care.”
1. Cambridge has a huge cancer research centre
Besides the fact that Cambridge is growing at a rapid rate, it also has the largest funded cancer research centre in the UK.
The centre has more than 700 members, 215 of which are lab based researchers, 190 consultants who are leaders of research in aspects of cancer care and a large number of allied health professionals, trainees, graduates and PhD students.
Professor Gilbertson said: “We’re focused on areas where there can be innovation in areas on cancer, and that’s the real magic of Cambridge with physics, maths, and engineering, we’re positioned perfectly.”
Cambridge also makes sense because of its role in scientific research and development, as new advances are made in cancer diagnosis and care, Professor Gilbertson says: “There’s no way way you can fit all of that science into Addenbrooke’s.
“Now the real driver is that if Cambridge is going to take all that potential with science, which is world leading, and change the way cancer is thought about for good, we can’t do that in Addenbrooke’s.”
2. Addenbrooke’s is pioneering
Addenbrooke’s already has the only precision breast cancer programme where the whole genome sequence is done for patients.
This means that women, and men, who come to Addenbrooke’s for breast cancer treatment are receiving treatment where decisions can be made based on the advanced genomic information.
The Cambridge hospital also has more patients than average being given the ability to take part in pioneering clinical trials.
Professor Gilbertson said: “Cambridge has well over half of our adult patients go on a clinical trial, which is incredible. Worldwide only 10 per cent or less of adults go on clinical trials in comparison.
“Patients will benefit from the fact that they will have many more clinical trials available.
“At the moment Addenbrooke’s provides amazing care and services, but the building is old and not fit for purpose any more. Providing that care for patients is critical but it’s not just clinical, it’s allied healthcare and a newer environment.”
3. Global possibilities
Cambridge University has some of the leading physics, engineering, and chemistry departments in the world, as well as one of the leading mathematics and computing centres in the world.
This wealth of knowledge and research would be used in advances in both care and the search for a cure for cancer.
Professor Gilbertson said: “The hospital would have full integration of academic as well as NHS service medicine, so you can really start to bring the benefits of Cambridge science immediately.
“If you can cure one patient in Cambridge you can cure 1,000 worldwide, because you can export that knowledge across the world.”
4. Surrounded by big names with big ideas
The planned location for the new cancer research hospital is on the Biomedical Campus, which would place it alongside industry giants such as AstraZenexa and GlaxoSmithKline.
Professor Gilbertson said: “There are so many firsts in this environment and it’s the obvious choice when you start to unpack it why you would put it in Cambridge.
“In London you may have a very strong hospital, but it wouldn’t necessarily be associated with a world class physics or engineering department.
“We need a building to bring those people involved in the physical and biological sciences to be bedside by patients.”
Many of the research facilities would also be open to the world so those with brilliant ideas who are based elsewhere, in New York or San Fransisco for example, can come to Cambridge to work on their idea.
If the Government supports and approves the plans, and funding is found, the project should take two to three years to plan, and a further two to three years to construct – meaning that if this project gets the green light it could well be finished by the end of 2025.
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