New £3m cancer centre opens at Ulster Hospital

A new £3m cancer centre, built to support and treat patients living with the disease, has opened at the Ulster Hospital.

The new Macmillan Unit was created by a partnership between the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust and the Macmillan Cancer Support.

It's also been designed with the help of people affected by cancer and brings together chemotherapy and support services.

The new site houses a chemotherapy unit with purpose-built assessment and treatment areas, a satellite pharmacy and a Macmillan support centre.

Paul Gribbin received cancer care at the Ulster Hospital and said it was part of the project steering group overseeing the build.

He said: "It’s wonderful to see the Macmillan Unit open and providing care to patients and their loved ones.

"It has been a privilege to add my voice and experience to its development. I know from my own cancer journey how important it is to feel comfortable and able to access the help you need when you’re going through treatment.

"This Unit is going to make a big difference to people’s lives."

Health Minister Robin Swann opened the facilities on Monday and paid tribute to hospital staff for their efforts during the pandemic.

"This new unit is a great example of successful partnership working between South Eastern Trust and Macmillan. Most importantly people living with cancer are at the heart of this Unit and their personal experiences have helped to shape the way it looks and feels, as well as the support it provides. 

"It is important for me to take this opportunity to thank all of the staff, for their hard work and dedication during the ongoing pandemic; and for the work that they are taking forward to rebuild our Health and Social Care Services.

"I know that despite the ongoing pressures, staff in oncology and haematology services across all Trusts have been working above and beyond to maintain services and to support people undergoing cancer treatment. I cannot thank you enough for that. You should be extremely proud of everything that you have achieved here."

Interim Assistant Director for Medical Services and Cancer Services at the South Eastern Trust, Mary Jo Thompson added: "It has been a delight to see this vision become a reality in just over four years and it provides a fantastic facility offering a comfortable high quality environment for our patients that matches the high quality care and support provided by our staff."

Janice Preston, Head of Partnerships for Macmillan in Northern Ireland said that the unit has people living with cancer at its heart: "Cancer can affect people’s lives in many ways, physically and emotionally.

"We know that the environments in which people are treated are vital to their dignity and wellbeing, and can have a significant impact on the way they feel and respond to treatment.

"The Macmillan Unit demonstrates how innovative and considerate design, combined with people’s lived experience, can shape and improve cancer care."