FUNDING has already been pledged in principle for what could soon become Swindon’s brand new multi-million pound radiotherapy unit.

Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust’s (OUHT) board last month took promising steps towards the creation of the new unit, which would help ease demand and allow Swindon residents to receive treatment much closer to home.

The OUHT would pay up to £14.7m for the unit but £3m would be needed from fundraising across Swindon and Wiltshire.

Swindon Clinical Commiss-ioning group, the organisation in charge of buying health in the area, has agreed to set aside part of its government allocation for the project.

The group received increased funding of £228.96m for 2014/2015, approximately 4.1 per cent more than anticipated, and £235.91m in 2015/2016.

Peter Crouch, clinical chairman of Swindon CCG polled support from GP practices across town to use part of the additional funding towards the local radiotherapy service.

It is unclear how much of it will go towards the ambitious project.

The Adver understands it may depend on the success of a fundraising appeal, expected to be led by the GWH’s own charity, Brighter Futures.

At a meeting of Swindon Council’s health overview and scrutiny committee on Wednesday, Dr Crouch pledged the CCG’s full support to the plans along with that of doctors across the area.

“We will be putting in a fraction of our allocation to accelerate the process and offset the risk that charitable donations do not come through,” he said. “I’m confident we will bring the radiotherapy unit plans forward as quickly as we can.

“We are just one of many groups pulling together to make this happen. Nobody is pushing in any way other than full steam ahead. The support for the project from GPs and the people of Swindon has been overwhelming.”

Cancer patients in and around Swindon currently have to travel up to 90 minutes each way to Oxford to use one of five machines available. This is significantly more than the 45 minutes recommended by the National Radiotherapy Advisory Group.

The intensive treatment can involve up to 37 trips to Oxford’s Churchill Hospital.

A Swindon CCG spokesman added: “We believe that local provision of this vital service will transform the quality of modern healthcare delivered for those diagnosed with cancer over the next few years and beyond, especially for those patients who will no longer have to make repeated trips to Oxford to receive radiotherapy.

“The development of this service is fully supported by all GP practices in Swindon and Shrivenham, our MPs, the health overview and scrutiny committee and NHS England.

“We will be working closely with both hospital trusts to deliver a local service as soon as possible, with many details, including the financial support to make this happen as soon as possible, yet to be finalised.”