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The new Cancer Centre at Guy's Hospital

The new Cancer Centre at Guy’s Hospital. Pics by Alex Lentati for the Evening Standard

Guy’s Hospital today opened a £160 million cancer centre as it outlined an ambition to become one of the best cancer hospitals in the world.

The 14-storey tower block has being built almost “free” to the NHS after the private hospital firm HCA was given four floors in return for rent that covers the “mortgage” for the entire building.

The cancer centre contains £1.7 million of public art – including a £100,000 bronze sculpture at its entrance inspired by a Roman boat buried under the hospital. This is to symbolise a patient’s “journey” while undergoing treatment. Themoney for the art was donated by the Guy’s and St Thomas’s charity and did not come from NHS funds.

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Daniel Silver, the Hackney-based artist who created the landmark piece, called Boat, (above) said: “There have been investigations and inquiries into art, They found out that art does help people to get healthy.

“I hope patients work out this relationship with where we are, close to the Thames, and the relationship with time. I hope it allows people to daydream and floats into their memory.”

It may be the most expensive piece of public art at a London hospital since a £70,000 “giant pebble” was unveiled to mark the 2005 opening of the new tower building at UCLH.

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The new Cancer Centre at Guy’s Hospital … Neil Burley Radiotherapist with an X-ray machine that is a 1000x more powerful than a normal one …

About £10 million has been spent on six Linac radiotherapy machines that deliver the most targeted treatment available on the NHS – to within 1mm. This prevents healthy tissue being damaged, means fewer bursts of radiation are required and is especially useful in treating brain tumours. Four of the machines are at the Guy’s site. The two others will be installed at a satellite unit at Queen Mary’s hospital, Sidcup.

Guy’s aims to position itself alongside the Royal Marsden and The Christie, in Manchester, both specialist cancer hospitals, as being world-class.

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The new Cancer Centre at Guy’s Hospital … Dr Maj Kazmi Director of Cancer Services

Dr Majid Kazmi, clinical director of cancer services at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Trust, said: “This has been a 10-year project to make Guy’s a global centre of excellence for cancer medicine. We are already attracting some of the best brains nationally and internationally to come and work here.

“We recognise the incidence of cancer is going to increase. Cardiovascular diseases are not as prevalent as they used to be, because people are stopping smoking and because of statins. Cancer is primarily a disease of the elderly.

“When we did an analysis, we realised that about a third of all the activity going through Guy’s and St Thomas’ was cancer-related. We thought: we have got to get good at this.”

Patients arrive at an airport-style reception and scan a barcode on their appointment letter before being summoned upstairs by a “departure board” for treatment.

One floor of the centre is an innovation hub of 70 scientists from King’s College London. Patients will be asked to donate samples to boost research.

The Dimbleby Cancer Care centre, run by a charity set up by David and Jonathan Dimbleby in memory of their father Richard, provides support services on the ground floor.

The radiotherapy machines are above ground – the first time this has been done in Europe. Normally their weight means they have to be put in the basement.

The new Cancer Centre at Guy's Hospital ... Alistair Gourlay Director

The new Cancer Centre at Guy’s Hospital … project director Alastair Gourlay

Alastair Gourlay, trust project director, said: “The rent we get from HCA is going to pay off the loan. We have got half a free hospital. When we first had the idea [about funding], I was a little bit nervous. There is a place for private sector and public sector working together.”

The HCA facilities, to be known as London Bridge Hospital at Guy’s, will open in spring 2017.

John Reay, chief executive at London Bridge Hospital, said: “We are proud to be part of this exciting new development in which London Bridge Hospital at Guy’s will offer world-class facilities for those with signs and symptoms of cancer.”

The press release from Guy’s and St Thomas’s is here: http://www.guysandstthomas.nhs.uk/news-and-events/2016-news/september/20160926-cancer-centre-now-open.aspx

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