Construction has started today on one of the first proton beam therapy (PBT) cancer centres to be built in England.
The treatment centre, situated at the Earth Balance wellness site in Bomarsund, will be the second to be built by Proton Partners International in the UK and is expected to be operational by February 2018.
At the start of the year, construction began at Proton Partners’ first centre in Newport, Wales. The location of the third centre, which is planned for London, is still to be announced.
Each centre will be able to treat up to 500 patients every year and, in addition to PBT, will offer imaging, chemotherapy, traditional radiotherapy and well-being services.
Coun Grant Davey, leader of Northumberland County Council, said: “It is fantastic to see work getting under way on this pioneering centre being developed right here in Northumberland.
“To have this facility based in the county is a real coup. It will not only make this type of treatment available to the region and beyond, but also bring more skilled jobs to Northumberland.”
The Bomarsund site was granted planning permission in February.
Mike Moran, chief executive of Proton Partners International, said: “Today marks an important step in our plans to revolutionise cancer treatment across the UK.
“Northumberland is the perfect location for our second centre – it is close to well-connected transport links and opens the door to proton beam therapy to prospective patients from the north of England and Scotland.
“We have acquired the best technology available and our aim is that this area will evolve into a state-of-the-art cancer treatment facility.
“The investment will also bring jobs, medical and administrative, to the area and will attract skilled individuals to the North East.”
The centre will treat NHS, medically-insured private and self-paying patients.
Karol Sikora, Proton Partners’ chief medical officer, added: “There is a pressing need to bring this type of treatment to the UK as studies have shown that at least 10 per cent of patients who receive traditional radiotherapy would be treated more effectively with protons.
“By offering a variety of cancer therapies, our centres will deliver a fully comprehensive level of cancer care, tailored to fit the different needs of each patient – something which is not available in the UK at the moment.”