An inspirational new centre designed to support people whose lives have been touched by cancer has been officially unveiled today.
The Duchess of Cornwall was the guest of honour at the opening of the latest Maggie’s Centre, situated next to The Christie Hospital.
It aims to provide a refuge, along with practical, emotional and psychological support for people living with the disease and their families.
Speaking at the event, the Duchess who is president of the Maggie’s charity, said:
I couldn’t imagine a more welcoming or imaginative sanctuary.
She told guests that the building fulfilled the original vision of the charity’s founder Maggie Keswick Jencks and that she hopes to see a Maggie’s Centre in every major city in the UK over the next two decades. During her visit, the Duchess took a tour of the facility and gardens, and met with designers, supporters, donors and staff.
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A revolutionary machine that scans and kills cancer at the same time is to be tested on patients in Manchester.
Experts say the MR-Linac machine to be installed at two centres in the UK could open up a new era in highly-personalised radiotherapy.
The machine combines magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanning and tumour-busting radiation treatment in one package.
Two of only seven of the machines in the world are being delivered to the UK, initially for use in clinical trials.
Patients with tumours affecting different parts of the body will be recruited, including brain, head and neck, lung, oesophageal, pancreatic, breast, prostate, cervix and rectal cancers. They will be among the first in the world to use the machine.
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Researchers at The Christie in Manchester will have access to a guided radiation therapy system which better targets tumours.
It promises to shorten treatment times, produce fewer side affects and give patients a better chance of beating the disease.
A watchdog is examining a string of allegations made against The Christie by whistleblowers.
Monitor, the health sector regulator, met a group of people who made the allegations which included fraud and issues around patient care.
Officers from the watchdog will now visit the world-renowned cancer treatment centre in Withington to carry out a preliminary inquiry into the claims.
They include allegations that human tissue samples were sold to drugs firms without telling patients - a claim strongly denied by the trust - but which the Human Tissue Authority is investigating.
Those claims stem from a redacted statement given to Monitor and the Care Quality Commission by one whistleblower.
West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper tabled a written Parliamentary question to Health Ministers having received information alleging the Christie NHS Foundation Trust have sold tissue samples to pharmaceutical companies without patients’ consent.
“Sadly we only have a redacted statement because neither the Care Quality Commission or Monitor will give any reassurances that the gagging clause the individual signed won’t be enforced. This is despite the Health Secretary banning gagging clauses that prevent NHS staff from speaking out.
“If the Christie, the Care Quality Commission, Monitor and the Department of Health have nothing to hide then they should be brave enough to say that this gagging clause won’t be enforced so that we can then get to the truth of these very grave and serious allegations.”
“We take whistle-blowing extremely seriously and that is why we met with a group of people with a number of concerns about The Christie NHS Foundation Trust.
“We listened to what they had to say and as a result we are working very closely with the Care Quality Commission and will be undertaking a joint visit to the trust to carry out a preparatory review into the concerns raised.”
In a statement, the hospital said: "We have been informed by Monitor and the Care Quality Commission (CQC), that they will be visiting the Trust later this month to carry out a preparatory review into issues raised by whistleblowers.
“This visit is not an investigation or an inspection, and has been prompted by concerns raised about the process of whistleblowing at the Trust to Monitor and CQC.
“Both Monitor and the CQC will be focusing their attention on the method and processes available for staff to raise concerns. Neither body has any concerns about The Trust’s patient care or treatment or the running of our charity.
“The Christie continues to achieve first rate results and patients continue to provide excellent feedback as a result of our highly skilled and professional expertise. In the latest national radiotherapy survey, 96% of patients rated their care as excellent or good, 97% said they were treated with the highest dignity and respect and in 33 out of 48 areas patients rated us as the best in the country.
“We are committed to maintaining an open and honest climate and feel strongly that all staff should feel confident and secure in whistleblowing and raising any concerns about something that is happening at work or how patients or colleagues are being treated. We also signpost our employees to a variety of external sources of advice and support such as the CQC, local counter fraud and Monitor.
“In a recent staff survey, 88% of our employees said they feel supported by colleagues, 97% would recommend The Christie to family and friends for treatment and 80% would speak up freely about concerns over safety or patient care.
“Patients are, and always will be our priority, and we remain committed to providing the very best standards of care and treatment in a world class cancer centre.”
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A spokesman for The Christie said:
We welcome this involvement (from Monitor), which follows Lord Bradley’s decision last week to step aside from the Chairman’s role when a replacement is selected.
The Trust has had recent dialogue with Monitor and looks forward to working constructively
with the regulator and is hopeful this will contribute to a swift and satisfactory conclusion.
The Trust’s and charity’s activities continue to be delivered to the very highest standards,
and patients, families and carers can be reassured this situation in no way affects patient care.
Patients are, and always will be our priority...we remain committed to providing very
best standards of care.