TOWN MPs have welcomed news of government’s new multi-million pound radiotherapy unit loan.

The loan, believed to be worth around £13m, will help Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust build the new radiotherapy unit at Swindon’s Great Western Hospital.

Health secretary Matt Hancock is understood to have approved the huge loan over the Christmas break. The Advertiser reported the key milestone in the long-running battle to bring radiotherapy treatments to Swindon in Monday’s paper.

Justin Tomlinson, MP for North Swindon, said: “I am delighted that the final funding is now in place to deliver this much-needed radiotherapy centre in Swindon. For too long, local residents have faced trips to Oxford and Bristol for treatment, and this announcement means that work to change that can now begin.

“Throughout this process, both Robert and I have lobbied ministers and senior NHS officials to secure this funding, as well as hosting and taking part in a number of fundraising events for the Brighter Futures appeal.

“Our town should be proud of the way residents have come together to secure this new facility that will save lives, and I look forward to the centre opening.”

The £2.9m Brighter Futures radiotherapy appeal hit its final target last month. The cash will help kit-out the new centre.

South Swindon MP Robert Buckland said: “Like many people in our town, I have been involved in fundraising events for the appeal, such as the Gingerbread Fun Run and a music marathon at Immanuel Church in Old Walcot. The support that this campaign has received from thousands of fundraisers is a reflection of the strong sense of community spirit that exists here in Swindon and I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has been involved.

“I have been campaigning hard along with North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson since the launch of the Brighter Futures fundraising campaign back in May 2015, and I am delighted that following regular contact with the health secretary and government finance ministers, the loan has now been given the green light."

It is hoped that work on the unit will begin in the second half of 2019. The new radiotherapy unit will save cancer patients a gruelling 70-mile round trip for treatment at Oxford’s Churchill Hospital. Around 700 patients a year make the trip along the A420 from Swindon and Wiltshire.

Welcoming news the loan agreement had been signed, GWH chief executive Nerissa Vaughan said: “This marks the final major milestone in our efforts to provide this essential service locally, so patients will no longer have to travel to and from Oxford for daily treatment.”