Today marks the unveiling of the site of the first Proton Beam Therapy cancer centre to be built in England – right here in Northumberland.
The treatment centre, the second to be built by Proton Partners International in the UK, will be situated on the Earth Balance wellness site in Bomarsund, in the south-east of the county, and will be operational by early 2017.
Earlier this month, Proton Partners announced that it had already started work on its first site in Newport, Wales, with the third set to be in London. Each centre will be able to treat up to 700 patients annually.
Proton Beam Therapy (PBT) is a type of radiotherapy used in cancer treatment, delivering heavily-charged protons in a more targeted manner to reduce damage to peripheral tissue and organs.
The therapy hit the national headlines earlier this year when the parents of five-year-old Ashya King took him from a British hospital and fled abroad to seek the treatment.
Gordon McVie, chairman of Proton Partners International Ltd, said: “Our goal is to herald a new era of cancer care provision in the UK, bringing the first high-energy Proton Beam Therapy centres to the UK and therefore unveiling our second site today marks another significant milestone.
“It is estimated that around 10 per cent of patients who receive radiotherapy would be better treated by Proton Beam Therapy.
“Across the world, Proton Beam Therapy has been shown to deliver significant results for patients, especially in lowering side effects.
“The sooner we can start treating patients with Proton Beam Therapy in the UK, the better.”
Coun Grant Davey, leader of Northumberland County Council, said: “We are delighted Northumberland has been chosen as the first place in England to be able to provide high-energy Proton Beam Therapy.
“This is not only good news for the county – it will provide a great economic boost to the whole region and highlight our commitment as a place to invest for the future.”
Mike Moran, chief executive officer of Proton Partners, said: “The new centres to be opened by Proton Partners will not just benefit private patients, but also hope to treat NHS patients in need of more highly-specialised cancer care.
“We are working with global leaders in Proton Beam Therapy – our centres will be equipped with the best technology there is.”
The work is part of a new programme of developments by the Earth Balance charity which is opening the wellness site to help meet the needs of current and future generations.
Chairman of Earth Balance, Alan Rutherford, said: “We are delighted that Proton Partners International are coming to the site and we are working hard with local healthcare partners, energy partners, health and wellbeing partners and the local community to ensure that the training and care opportunities are meeting local needs.”
World-leading provider IBA (Ion Beam Applications) has been selected to install its single-room proton therapy system, Proteus®ONE. Philips will deliver software and technology tools and a big bore CT scanner.