£4 million project to develop Bristol's first dedicated breast cancer centre
A dedicated breast cancer centre is set to be built as part of a £4 million project at Southmead Hospital.
The city’s first Macmillan Wellbeing Centre is also being built with £1 million from the cancer charity as part of the scheme, to provide information and support for people affected by the disease.
Beaufort House - one of the original buildings from the hospital’s history as a workhouse - is being redeveloped to create the two centres.
Plans to bring breast cancer services under one roof in a designated centre were first discussed after it was decided to centralise them on the Southmead Hospital site. As part of the centralisation from March 25 Bristol Royal Infirmary (BRI) consultants and nurses will move to the Southmead breast care centre where planned surgery and associated appointments will be carried out, with follow-up appointments being carried out closer to patients’ homes.
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Rather than using the new £430 million super hospital building the decision was taken to use Beaufort House so that the centre could be tailored to the needs of breast cancer services and patients.
It has been designed with input from specialist doctors, nurses and patients to make it appropriate for the women who come through the door for different reasons.
Women will attend the centre for routine breast screening as well as appointments in response to symptoms of breast cancer. The building will be split into two distinct areas so that patients who may receive a diagnosis of breast cancer during their visit have a separate waiting area and exits from those who are there for screening and are essentially well. There is also a separate hidden garden area where patients can spend time after they have been given bad news, which can be accessed from all of the consulting rooms.
A grassed area and cherry tree at the front of the building will also be retained as part of the project, marking the entrances to the centres.
The Macmillan Wellbeing Centre will provide a library of information and leaflets, computers and rooms for complementary therapies and underwear and wig-fitting.
It will be the first centre of its kind in the area supporting people from across Bristol affected by any type of cancer - from patients to friends and relatives and even employers.
The plan is for the new centres to open in early May 2014 ahead of the opening of the new Southmead Hospital, making way for the demolition of the main building where breast care services are currently based.
It is being paid for with £1 million from Macmillan, while the remainder of the £4 million project will be covered by North Bristol NHS Trust (NBT) and its fundraising team, which is due to launch an appeal for about £500,000 in the summer.
Dr Mike Shere, lead breast care clinician at NBT, said: “With the BRI unit coming over here before this centre opens we will be spending that year together working out how we can improve breast services before we move in there.
“The big difference when we move in there is that we will have the breast screening team in there and all the breast services in Bristol will be under one roof.
“If you go to any other city they have a big breast unit which everybody knows about.
“We have always been a fragmented service in Bristol. I think there are two aspects to it - working with the bigger team and the advantages that brings but also moving from three very old buildings into this old but purpose-built centre and I think that is the exciting thing about it.”
Specialist Jane Barker, who has worked on the unit since 1990, said: “This is something that has been a dream since 1990.”
Service design project lead Jo Anyon, said it was decided to keep Beaufort House to provide a historical thread throughout the hospital site.
“We will really stripping it back and trying to bring the building back to life again,” she said.
Jan Biagioli, of local charity Bust, which has been supporting the breast care centre for 21 years and was consulted about the centre, said: “This is going to be a fantastic building, a fantastic environment for everybody.”
Senior Macmillan development manager Ed Murphy said: “Our centre will be a non-clinical environment to provide a refuge for anyone with cancer, relatives or friends.
“It is for people who have been diagnosed, undergoing treatment or people who have finished treatment.
“For the last ten years we have been working with NBT about their vision for a centre like this.”