WORK on a new radiotherapy unit at Swindon's Great Western Hospital will begin next Spring, after ministers signed off a loan for the £18.4m project.

The unit will mean cancer patients no longer having to make the 70-mile round trip to Oxford's Churchill Hospital for treatment. 

The service will be run by Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Jason Dorsett, Chief Finance Officer at Oxford University Hospitals, said: “I am so pleased that at last we have been able to sort out the finances to make this much-wanted project a reality. I am very grateful to the people of Swindon and beyond for their patience and their generosity. Their contributions via the Better Futures Charity have been so important, not just in terms of the finances but also in showing the widespread support for this project.

“We are all very excited at the prospect of making the dream of a Satellite Radiotherapy Unit in Swindon a reality and are now focused on getting everything in place to start work on site, which we hope to be able to do by spring next year.”

Dr Claire Hobbs, Head of Radiotherapy at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “We are very grateful to the Department of Health and Social Care for agreeing the funding model that will allow us to go ahead with our dream of bringing radiotherapy services closer to people’s homes.”

Kevin McNamara, head of strategy at GWH, said: "We're delighted that Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust have today announced that the Department of Health and Social Care have given their final approval for the loan needed to kick start the project which will bring radiotherapy to Swindon. 

"Hundreds of local people generously donated to Brighter Futures' Radiotherapy Appeal which raised £2.9 million towards the specialist equipment needed to provide radiotherapy locally. This incredible contribution is so important and testament to the community spirit of Swindon and Wiltshire. 

"As an expansion of Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust's radiotherapy service, we will be working together to ensure building work can begin as soon as possible and expect the first spade in the ground in spring 2020."

Reacting, South Swindon MP Robert Buckland said: "I am extremely pleased that the details of this vital initiative for Swindon patients has been finalised. Both Justin and I lobbied health secrertary Matt Hancock to get the loan for this new unit agreed earlier this year. I look forward to the building work commencing."

GWH's Brighter Futures charity raised £2.9m to help equip the new unit.

More follows.