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Government commits £120m funding for new Cambridge Cancer Research Hospital

The government has committed £120million towards Cambridge’s new cancer hospital.

The specialist facility is planned alongside Addenbrooke’s Hospital, as the Cambridge Independent was first to reveal in March 2019 , and the funding means it could be in place by 2025.

The main entrance of the Cambridge Cancer Research Hospital on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus. Image: NBBJ
The main entrance of the Cambridge Cancer Research Hospital on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus. Image: NBBJ

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced today (Friday October 2) that it was among 40 hospitals, including six in the East of England, receiving funding from a £3.7billion hospital-building programme touted as the “biggest in a generation”.

Cambridge Cancer Research Hospital will bring together the clinical expertise of Cambridge University Hospitals with the scientific expertise of the University of Cambridge and Cancer Research UK Cambridge Centre, which is also sited near Addenbrooke’s on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus.

Plans approved by the board of Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust were passed earlier this year to the government for review. They show inpatient and outpatient facilities, a diagnostics unit, acute assessment unit and a pharmacy are proposed.

Two centres of excellence could also be included: the National Institute for the Early Detection of Cancer and the Institute for Integrated Cancer Medicine.

These will focus on translating research and technology into cancer prevention, early detection and precision medicine.

Professor Richard Gilbertson, director of the CRUK Cambridge Centre at the University of Cambridge, said: “I would like to take the opportunity to thank all those involved in the incredible partnership between the CRUK Cambridge Centre, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Trust and the university that has made this possible.

“Today’s announcement gives a true ‘green light’ to the building of this much needed facility for our patients.”

South Cambridgeshire’s Conservative MP Anthony Browne said: “This is fantastic news for South Cambridgeshire and represents exactly the kind of specialist service I want to see brought to our local community. This formed an essential part of my campaign in December and I have made strong representations to the Secretary of State to see this project funded.

“This new facility has the potential to dramatically transform not only the hopes of cancer sufferers in our area, but our ability to understand and conquer cancer.

The location of the Cancer Research Hospital on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus. Image: Northmores
The location of the Cancer Research Hospital on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus. Image: Northmores

“Building on previous announcements of funding for a new children’s hospital and Cambridge South Station, this represents over a quarter of a billion pounds in investment for South Cambridgeshire. I am thrilled to see this government keeping its promises to our residents, and I will continue to push for even more investment South Cambs.”

Initial plans suggested the new cancer hospital could cost up to £220million to build.

The University of Cambridge has already committed to raising £50million towards the facility, which will be built on a parcel of land between the Addenbrooke’s Treatment Centre and the Frank Lee Centre, with its main entrance off Keith Day Road.

It would lie on the other side of Robinson Way from the new headquarters and R&D centre of biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca .

Early plans suggested there could be 77 beds in the seven-storey building.

Confirming the hospital-building programme, which was a manifesto commitment, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “The dedication and tireless efforts of our nurses, doctors and all healthcare workers have kept the NHS open throughout this pandemic. But no matter what this virus throws at us we are determined to build back better and deliver the biggest hospital building programme in a generation.

“From Morpeth to Milton Keynes, we are building 40 new hospitals across England to level up our NHS so more people have top-class healthcare services in their local area.”

The location of the Cambridge Cancer Research Hospital on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus. Image: Northmores
The location of the Cambridge Cancer Research Hospital on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus. Image: Northmores

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “We protected the NHS through the peak of coronavirus. Today we recommit to protect the NHS for years to come with the 40 new hospitals we will build over the next decade, including six in the East of England alone.

“I love the NHS and I will do all I can to make sure it is there for you and your family over the years to come. The biggest hospital building programme in a generation will help protect the NHS long into the future.”

Discussing the plans last year, Prof Gilbertson, who is also head of the university’s Department of Oncology, told the Cambridge Independent that the new cancer hospital would be pioneering.

“There are three research components,” he said. “There would be a precision cancer research centre which would integrate physics, chemistry, engineering and mathematics towards better patient care and decision-making.

“We would have early cancer detection – and that’s probably one of the best opportunities we have to save lives by bringing forward the diagnosis as early as possible. And again that would integrate physics, chemistry, engineering and mathematics.

“Probably our leading programme is in breast cancer: we already have the world’s first precision breast cancer programme and this will be embedded within the new hospital.”

Professor Richard Gilbertson in front of an image of the hospital. Picture: Keith Heppell
Professor Richard Gilbertson in front of an image of the hospital. Picture: Keith Heppell

Roland Sinker, CEO of Cambridge University Hospitals, said: “We welcome the Prime Minister’s funding announcement for the Cambridge Cancer Research Hospital.

“Cambridge Cancer will rewrite the story of cancer; it will bring together world-class clinicians from Addenbrooke’s Hospital with cutting-edge Cambridge research and industry, enabling early detection of cancer and delivering bespoke, precision treatments that will radically improve patient outcomes.

“This national facility will bring hope for cancer patients regionally, nationally and internationally, and we look forward to progressing this project at a rapid pace.”

The cancer hospital is planned for phase two of the Health Infrastructure Plan.

The funding will accelerate the timeline from outline business case, meaning the hospital could be in place within five years.

In August Cambridge University Hospitals chairman Dr Mike More told the Cambridge Independent that he was hopeful that three new hospitals could be in place on site within a decade - the cancer research hospital, the planned Cambridge Children’s hospital - which already has government funding - and the proposed Addenbooke’s 3, a rebuild of the main hospital , focused on its emergency department, which is not mentioned in the government announcement but is expected to be separately funded.

Of the other hospital projects planned for the East that will receive government money, two are in the initial phase:

  • A new integrated, high-tech healthcare campus to replace the ageing Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow, Essex;
  • A rebuild of Watford General Hospital, including women and children’s services.

Three others will be in phase two:

  • A rebuild of West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds to replace the poor estate and provide a better patient environment;
  • A new women and children’s hospital to be built at Milton Keynes Hospital.
  • A rebuild of James Paget Hospital in Great Yarmouth

The Health Infrastructure Plan was launched last September with a £2.8billion investment giving six new hospitals funding to go ahead, and seed funding for other trusts to work up business cases.

Today’s announcement means those trusts will be funded to deliver 25 new hospitals.

It was also announced last year that a further 20 hospitals will receive a share of £850million to upgrade outdated facilities and equipment, with enabling works beginning at several sites.

The government confirmed the funding is on top of the extra £33.9billion a year by 2023 to 2024 that it has committed to providing to the NHS.

It also hopes to bring in 50,000 more nurses, and said there were over 14,100 extra nurses now working in the NHS compared to last year, as well as over 9,200 more doctors.

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