Our new £4.7m cancer centre opened its doors to its first patients in May 2016. Patients and staff celebrated the much-anticipated opening of the Woolverstone Macmillan Centre with a ribbon-cutting and cake, while experiencing the state-of-the-art surroundings for the first time.
Nisa Heys, 37, from Ipswich, was among the patients celebrating the opening of the centre. Diagnosed with a hereditary blood condition at five months old, Nisa received treatment in the Woolverstone Wing every three weeks since the age of 19, before cancer services were temporarily relocated to the hospital’s former maternity ward when building commenced. Nisa has been an avid supporter of the new centre since its inception and was filmed talking about her experiences of the old ward ahead of the appeal launch: “The unit was so stretched. There was often no room for anyone to sit with you; it was really squashed and cramped and that made the time pass ridiculously slowly. When you’re in all day for treatment, with a headache anyway, the strip lighting wasn’t very relaxing. You couldn’t even see out the windows. There was nowhere to go for privacy; you were sitting in each other’s laps. Sometimes I would dread going in.”
Building work on the Woolverstone Macmillan Centre began in September 2015, involving the complete refurbishment of the existing Woolverstone Wing and a considerable extension. The centre brings together all outpatient chemotherapy, oncology and haematology day services at Ipswich Hospital in a modernised, new environment designed with patients at its heart. The centre features a spacious waiting room to relax in before appointments, several consulting rooms to give patients and loved ones the privacy and dignity they deserve, and 30 treatment chairs (including private bays) set in a bright, airy, non-clinical space with plenty of room for visitors.
The centre will continue to provide world-class treatment through its hard-working staff and finally brings an end to the cramped, overcrowded conditions of the old ward. Treatment capacity has more than doubled since opening and there is a renewed focus on patient wellbeing, with artwork and three new gardens inspired by the landscapes of Suffolk. Staff are now also able to enjoy a dedicated break room to relax and refresh between shifts.
The original dream of a revamped Woolverstone Wing was born seven years ago, when a group of hospital staff, volunteers, patients and their loved ones joined together to form the Woolverstone Wish group under The Ipswich Hospital Charity umbrella. Their goal was to raise £800,000 in order to refurbish the existing centre and five years later their target was reached. Macmillan Cancer Support then identified an opportunity to build a whole new treatment centre, costing £4.7m. Woolverstone Wish and The Ipswich Hospital Charity together contributed £1m and in November 2014 an appeal to raise a further £3.7m was launched.
Nick Hulme, Chief Executive of Ipswich Hospital, said: “This Centre was only possible because of the passion of the group of staff and patients who came together and raised £1million. This amazing achievement meant that we could join forces with national cancer charity Macmillan and launch a joint fundraising appeal.”
Amanda Jordan, now Head of Charity & Fundraising at Ipswich Hospital Charity but formerly Area Manager of Suffolk and Norfolk at Macmillan Cancer Support, added: “It is heart-warming to see the new Woolverstone Macmillan Centre now open for patients and staff. They have been at the centre of the dream for a new cancer centre since its humble beginnings over seven years ago, so it’s only fitting that they were at the heart of celebrations when the centre opened its doors and it’s good to hear such positive comments from patients about the difference the centre is making on an almost daily basis.”
Both the Woolverstone Wish and the Woolverstone Macmillan Centre Appeals are now closed but people can still give to the Centre to benefit future patients by donating to the Oncology Fund, as part of The Ipswich Hospital Charity.
If you would like to donate to the Oncology Fund or one of the other Cancer Services at the hospital including The John le Vay Cancer Centre, Haematology, Radiotherapy, Somersham Ward, Pathology etc please get in touch with the Ipswich Hospital charity team on 01473 702929 or you can donate to the area of your choice here.