Specialist teenage cancer unit in the South gets the green light to be built
A Teenage Cancer Trust unit specifically designed for young cancer patients living in the South of England and the Channel Islands has been given final approval to go ahead by University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust. Local communities are now being asked to support the charity in the final stage of its multi-million pound fundraising appeal.
Plans for the state-of-the-art unit at Southampton General Hospital have now been approved after being recently revised to better meet the needs of young cancer patients. This ten bedded unit will now be larger and have additional facilities, enabling young cancer patients aged 16 to 24 living in Hampshire, Dorset, the Channel Islands, South Wiltshire, Isle of Wight and parts of West Sussex, to be treated for the first time with others their own age in an environment suited to their needs.
This unique ten bedded unit will feature six en-suite inpatient bedrooms, which will now be almost double their original size to enable family or friends to stay over. There will also be four day care spaces, social and recreation areas with a kitchen and dining area plus a parent/family sitting room, which has now been incorporated into the revised plans.
So that the particular needs of teenagers and young adults are met, a group of former and current young cancer patients will be working with the hospital architect to advise on the design and colour themes and what furniture and entertainment equipment should be included.
The unit construction and maintenance and the services it helps to provide, will cost Teenage Cancer Trust £2.4million. To date Teenage Cancer Trust’s Southampton Appeal has raised £1.7million, with £500,000 donated by Channel Islanders. A further £700,000 urgently needs to be raised before the unit becomes operational and the charity is asking local communities to help towards this target.
Since the launch of the Southampton Appeal in 2008, local communities have been incredibly supportive of Teenage Cancer Trust’s vision. Ahead of this main unit build generous locals helped the charity fund an interim two bedded unit at the hospital and contributed to a ten bed ward for bone marrow transplant patients.
Simon Davies, Chief Executive of Teenage Cancer Trust said: “Today is a real milestone for Teenage Cancer Trust. The development of this unit has been a long time coming and local communities and businesses have worked tirelessly to help us get to this stage. We are incredibly grateful for their support and we are now asking local people to help us in our final fundraising push so that next year we can officially open our new unit.”
Louise Hooker, Teenage Cancer Trust Lead Nurse at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust comments: “I know our patients will really benefit from the Teenage Cancer Trust unit, so that they can receive treatment alongside people their own age in an environment that has been specifically designed for them. The Teenage and Young Adult cancer care team based in Southampton help young people and their families across the region to face the challenges of cancer. The magnificent support from the local communities for the Teenage Cancer Trust appeal shows just how much they want to help them too.”
Charlotte Adams, 20, from Bordon, Hampshire, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia when she was 13 and was treated on a children’s ward. “Being a teenager going through cancer is very hard to understand. You are not a child therefore you know exactly what is going on and you know it’s not a nice situation. When I was going through my treatment I didn’t have any teenage facilities, I was put on a children’s ward which was full of babies and young children. The alternative was a ward full of adults. These were my only options. Not having a Teenage Cancer Trust unit meant I never got the chance to speak to anyone my age who was going through the same things as me and so I always felt I was the only one and I was on my own.”
“Fortunately I have a very supportive family and close group of friends who helped me through everything and listened to me. A lot of people may not have this and therefore by being on a ward especially for teenagers and in the same situation would really help them to come to terms with what they are going through and show them they are not alone.”
Enabling work has now begun with the main construction starting in October and a completion date set for summer 2013. Once open, the Southampton Teenage Cancer Trust unit will complement the 21 other specialist units the charity has built in NHS hospitals across the UK since 1990. Teenage Cancer Trust plans to build a further 10 so that all young people needing hospital treatment for cancer across the UK and Channel Islands have access to the dedicated, specialist support they provide.
Every day in the UK and Channel Islands, six young people are told they have cancer. Usually placed on a children’s ward or on an adult ward which is normally made up of elderly patients, young people often feel extremely isolated when facing a cancer diagnosis.
To lend your fundraising support and help Teenage Cancer Trust raise a further £700,000 please email firstname.lastname@example.org call 07943 923549. For more information visit www.teenagecancertrust.org or call 020 7612 0370.