The new £13.6 million Radiotherapy Department at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary (ARI) was officially opened 17th February by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. The spacious and welcoming building at the east end of ARI brings all aspects of radiotherapy delivery under one roof.

Some 1,700 courses of treatment are delivered in the Department in a year to patients across NHS Grampian, Orkney and Shetland, with some specialised services being provided to other Health Boards.

North East Radiotherapy Department opening by the First Minister. Copyright NHS Grampian.  North East Radiotherapy Department opening by the First Minister. Copyright NHS Grampian.  North East Radiotherapy Department opening by the First Minister. Copyright NHS Grampian.

North East Radiotherapy Department opening by the First Minister. Copyright NHS Grampian.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said,
“This state-of-the-art facility is wonderful news for NHS Grampian and the surrounding areas, and will give patients access to the first-class treatment that they deserve. The diagnosis of cancer is life changing for patients and their families, and it is therefore crucial that they are given the best possible care that we can provide. The Scottish Government is committed to improving the treatment that is available to cancer patients and the significant investment in this £13.6 million department advances what we already have in place.”

Professor Stephen Logan, Chairman of NHS Grampian added,
“The new radiotherapy department represents a significant step in the development of cancer services in the north and north east of Scotland and in the provision of modern facilities on the Foresterhill Campus. The radiotherapy department is part of a range of improvements for cancer patients over the past three years which have included new inpatient accommodation and the Maggie’s Centre. Services and facilities will be further enhanced with the Cancer Centre development which currently being planned and is expected to be completed in 2019. There is therefore a strong commitment to cancer services and the improvement of quality for patients.”

The First Minister met staff and patients during her tour of the Radiotherapy Department.

The Department is equipped with three state of the art treatment machines. These linear accelerators are used to deliver therapeutic doses of radiation to cancer patients and have in-built imaging capability to assist safe and accurate treatment delivery. The department also provides HDR (high-dose rate) brachytherapy, where a radiation source is placed close to a tumour site.

The Department’s pre-treatment suite provides treatment planning and houses a CT simulator which is used for initial imaging of the patient. Once the Clinical Oncologist has identified the region to be treated, the treatment planning team can create a customised treatment plan which ensures highly targeted, optimal treatment delivery. Since moving into the centre the team have been delivering volumetric modulated arc therapy (VMAT) to an increasing number of patients. This modern, efficient technique is appropriate for certain tumour sites. The Department also includes electronics and mechanical workshops, a dosimetry lab, meeting rooms, office space and staff welfare facility.

The Department was built in two phases, with construction managed throughout by Laing O’Rourke. The first phase opened in July 2012, containing two treatment bunkers and support accommodation. Work to house two further treatment bunkers, staff accommodation and pre-treatment suite began on the site in December 2012. Patients started being treated in phase 2 in early 2014. The Laing O’Rourke and Radiotherapy teams worked very closely together to enable patient treatment to continue while building work was carried out during both phases. It was completed six weeks ahead of schedule and under the expected cost of £13.7million at £13.6 million.