Nearly 600 people have received cancer treatment in the first year of Oxford University Hospital's Radiotherapy Centre being open at Swindon's Great Western Hospital.

The centre was ceremonially opened in June 2022 and staff cared for their first patients on 11 October 2022.

Since then, as of 11 October 2023, 593 patients have been treated, involving 6,606 radiotherapy treatments and 544 CT scans.

Based on a 70-mile round trip from Swindon-Oxford, this has saved people driving approximately 500,000 miles – about 173.6 tonnes CO2e – and, based on a 2.5-hour round trip, a total of 17,900 hours, or 744 days.

Swindon Advertiser: Jo Watts, operational manager at OUH Radiotherapy Centre presents the birthday cakeJo Watts, operational manager at OUH Radiotherapy Centre presents the birthday cake (Image: OUH Trust)The centre is an expansion of OUH's radiotherapy service which, until its opening last year, was provided solely by the Churchill Hospital in Oxford, meaning many people can receive important treatment closer to home and without needing to travel to Oxford.

It houses two state-of-the-art linear accelerators, used for external beam radiotherapy, and a specialist radiotherapy CT scanner among other equipment.

One of those patients was 39-year-old assistant headteacher from Swindon, Maz Drew, who was diagnosed with Stage 2 Grade 3 triple-negative breast cancer in 2022.

 In total, she has had 19 cycles of chemotherapy, a lumpectomy, 15 radiotherapy treatments and is now completing six months of chemotherapy tablets.

Swindon Advertiser: OUH's Swindon Radiotherapy teamOUH's Swindon Radiotherapy team (Image: OUH Trust)

She is now cancer-free and in her final stages of preventative treatment.

Maz said: “Having the radiotherapy service in Swindon has made such a huge difference as I have been able to work throughout my treatment.

“I was so glad to be able to just pop to the hospital in Swindon to have my treatment and get back to work. Had I had to go to Oxford I would have been out of work for the best part of the day and  would have needed to take a significant amount of time off work.”

She added: “I had the best treatment when I was having radiotherapy. Everyone was so kind and welcoming, and the radiotherapists got to know me and always made me feel comfortable.

“The team were so flexible and when I needed to change the timings of some of my appointments due to work they were always obliging and helpful.

“They have been amazing and I’m so thankful for all their care and support.”

Jo Watts, operational manager for the centre said: “We are so pleased to have been able to help the hundreds of patients over the last 12 months, providing them care much closer to home that makes such a positive difference to them and their families.

“From the very start of this project, the people of Swindon really got behind the centre, and we are forever grateful for the incredible fundraising by them, Brighter Futures and the Rotary Clubs of Swindon and surrounding areas.

Swindon Advertiser: Patient Maz DrewPatient Maz Drew (Image: OUH Trust)

Kevin McNamara, chief executive at Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “It’s great to be able to mark this significant milestone after many years of hard work to bring radiotherapy to Swindon.

“With many people in the local area facing cancer and needing the life-saving treatment, it was really important that we did all we could to help make the experience that bit easier but reducing the need for a 70-mile round trip.

“I’m really pleased that so many people have already benefited from our local Radiotherapy Centre, and hope it continues to bring comfort to patients and their families for many years to come.”

OUH invested £18.4 million in this project and local people donated £2.9 million towards the specialist equipment needed to provide radiotherapy in Swindon, through the charity Brighter Futures' Radiotherapy Appeal.