Patients in the Kent Oncology Centre are receiving some of the fastest treatment in the country but now also with increased state-of-the-art equipment after the first patients were treated with the new Halcyon machine based at Maidstone Hospital last month.
Only a small number of cancer treatment centres in England are using this new radiotherapy technology which halves treatment times and provides a much more comfortable experience for patients.
The £2 million Halcyon accelerator targets larger tumours more effectively and provides more accurate images in a less enclosed and quieter environment, helping to reduce the stress a patient may feel.
On Monday 25 July, bladder cancer patient Paul, 56, from Crowborough was the very first person to be treated with the new machine, saying: “It’s a much quieter machine than what I’ve been treated with before so it was a much more pleasant experience and I was in and out so quickly – it was a terrific service.
“If I ever win the lottery I’ll be buying them another one!”
Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust’s, Chief of Cancer Services, Philippa Moth, said: “Improving the patient experience is always at the forefront of every decision we make and the investment in this new technology will mean our patients have access to faster, more accurate treatment and therefore spend less time in hospital and more time with their loved ones.
“The Halcyon is part of our ongoing commitment to ensure our patients have access to the best possible care and thanks to the hard work of our fantastic teams will help us build on the progress we have made in the last few years in becoming one of the best performing cancer centres in the country.”
As well as being much easier for specialist staff to use, the Halcyon also offers increased efficiency such as dramatically lower running costs helping to save energy and being completely paperless.
The oncology centre, which is part of Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust (MTW), continued all cancer treatments throughout the pandemic. MTW is also one of only a handful of trusts to have met national cancer standards for almost three years. Staff are now looking forward to increasing the number of cancer patients they can treat with the delivery of a second Halcyon later this year.
The arrival of the machines is one of a number of investments which improve the care of cancer patients at MTW. The Trust has recruited more specialist oncology clinicians, developed and trained nursing staff to enable them to deliver chemotherapy treatment and in May opened a new Oncology Outpatients suite.