Duchess and Prince team up to officially open pioneering cancer centre in Northumberland
The Duchess of Northumberland teamed up with the Queen's cousin this afternoon to officially open the only centre in the North East which provides patients with an advanced form of cancer treatment.
Jane Percy and HRH The Duke of Gloucester Prince Richard were at the £35 million Rutherford Cancer Centre North East in Bedlington, Northumberland, for a tour of its facilities.
The pioneering complex offers patients proton beam therapy - an advanced form of external radiotherapy which targets precise areas of the body and isn't yet widely available in the UK.
The new centre, which welcomes a mix of private paying, insured and NHS patients, also provides chemotherapy, radiotherapy, immunotherapy and wellness services.
It has been built to meet patient demand in the North East, which has some of the highest incidence of cancer in the UK. Patients have been receiving treatment at the centre since August last year, though it was only officially opened to the public today. The centre began offering proton beam therapy two months ago.
The Duke of Gloucester, whose father Prince Henry was the brother of the Queen's father George VI, unveiled a plaque inside the centre during an emotional ceremony.
Prince Richard said: "Cancer cure rates are extremely poor considering that we lead the world in cancer research. There are lots of clever people who are learning more and more about cancer and how to cure it. It can only be through applying these principles with the greatest efficiency that we can reverse the statistics.”
Rutherford Health Plc operates a network of Rutherford Cancer Centres which offers the latest cancer therapies including proton beam therapy.
Mike Moran, Chief Executive Officer of Rutherford Health, said: "We're treating people closer to home and that's an important part of their recovery."Centre manager Chris Land added: "We can treat in the region of 350-500 patients per year for proton beam therapy. We can also treat 500 for radiotherapy and 1000 for chemotherapy.
"We are also bringing in high value, high skilled jobs to the region."
The Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust also sends chemotherapy patients to the centre.