Blog and updates 

Read about the new clinical facility and how it will make a difference to patients in our regular updates.

 

  • October 2017: The latest timelapse showing construction progress

  • September 2017: The latest timelapse showing construction progress

  • August 2017: The latest timelapse showing construction progress

  • Sept 2017: Involving patients in our new clinical facility

    Jessica Haddrell and Hannah Millar explain there work engaging patients in our new building.

    Throughout the summer we held workshops for patients and their families to come along and tell us how they would like the new PBT centre to look and feel. Teams of artists and architects shared their plans, and the three workshops – one each for younger patients, teenagers and adults - were a great success!

     PPI

    It was fantastic to see so many patients who have used our services and have received PBT abroad, coming together and sharing their experiences and thoughts of how we can make the new centre the best it can be.

     https://www.uclh.nhs.uk/aboutus/NewDev/NCF/PublishingImages/PPi%20blog%20image.jpg

    Some very creative contributions to the time capsule were made, and the feedback we received will be used to influence the build and design of the ground floor reception area and two designated PBT floors.

  • July 2017: The latest timelapse showing construction progress

  • July 2017: Amazing drone footage of the site

  • June 2017: 19 months of construction in under 2 minutes

    As we get near to the completion of the basement dig, watch the last 19 months in less than 2 minutes!
     
     
  • June 2017, Derek’s top five facts on proton beam therapy equipment

    Derek D’Souza is part of the UCLH proton beam therapy team and is a medical physicist. Here he gives us his favourite five facts.

    Fact 1: Weighing the same as a jumbo jet, but the size of a car, the cyclotron is the “heart” of the equipment that delivers the proton beam to the patient. It accelerates the proton to high speeds before the protons are sent down a tunnel, steered by magnets, to the treatment rooms. Other ways to accelerate protons are theoretically possible, but none have been built in real life situations for clinical use.

    Fact 2: The proton beam is delivered via a gantry which is three stories high. It is delivered with pin point accuracy by an arm which can rotate 360 degrees. The patient lies on a couch while the beam rotates around them directing the beam where it needs. Each treatment which may last around 30 minutes. Patients typically need between 25 and 30 sessions.

    Fact 3: A team including doctors, medical physicists, dosimetrists and radiographers work together to decide how to treat the patient. The doctors set out where in the body will be targeted by the protons and what part of the body needs protecting. They also set the dose of protons needed to kill the tumour.

    The medical physicists and dosimetrists work out how to deliver that treatment. Using CT images of the patient they simulate the treatment virtually and work out what angle the beam should be at and how long it needs to be on for and at what power.

    Once the plan is agreed, radiographers administer the treatment to patients.

    Fact 4: We will use pencil beam scanning at UCLH. This relatively new approach means that the beam of protons “paints” in the dose to the tumour from the furthest point to the nearest point. It helps provide accuracy and minimises the dose of protons needed.

    Fact 5: Our centre will be a hub of innovation and research. Although we won’t be able to change the cyclotron, the beam line or the 100 tonne gantries, we will be working with our research partners to explore and exploit the machinery to deliver the very best treatment. Opportunities to advance proton beam therapy treatment exist in how we combine the use of imaging with treatment planning, exploring different doses of protons and positioning of patients. We will also be able to update and change the technology that powers the machines to reflect the very latest in research and clinical innovation from elsewhere.

  • May 2017: Running and riding for protons

    Tackling seven marathons in seven days, Richard Smith (far left in the picture below), our deputy security adviser, is running from UCLH to The Christie in Manchester to raise money for our proton beam therapy centre.
     
    PBT Riders

    A group of 50 cyclists, made up of UCLH staff and friends (some shown above), is also powering the 220 miles to The Christie. The two hospitals will be home to the only NHS high energy proton beam therapy centres, with facilities currently under construction.

    The money raised will mean we can provide the very best facilities for our patients, including for some families who may be away from home for several weeks while their child is undergoing treatment .

    With everyone completing on 17 June, departures have been scheduled according to mode of transport and level of challenge desired. Richard said: “I will arrive in at the same time as our cyclists – it will just take me that little bit longer!”

    Steve Last, project finance lead for phase 4 and phase 5, who is behind the rides, said: “In 2016, we raised over £10,000 riding from The Christie to UCLH. This time we are aiming to raise £15,000 and we are starting in London. 

    "It will be slightly harder as it is uphill and, to add to the fun, Richard is running and some of us are doing the ride in one day, instead of over two.”

    Participants include Catherine Pollard, director of strategic development, who said: “I have done RideLondon so hope I will be ok. I am slightly daunted by the distance and want to make sure I don’t let the team down."

    Tim Jaggard, director of finance, and John Clucas, head of construction programme management, are old hands, having done the ride last year.

    Tim said: “If it wasn’t for a new arrival in our family, I’d be trying for the one-day challenge but given the sleepless nights and lack of training I’ve opted for the slightly more relaxing two-day ride!”

    John said:  “This year I've deliberately chosen the one-day option….. If we work together as a team, I should just about make it.

    "It's a cliché that people say 'I couldn't have done it on my own' - but in my case , it will be true!”

    Jonathan Gardner, deputy director strategic development, is also joining in.

    He said: “As a regular commuter by bike, I am really looking forward to the challenge of getting fitter for a long ride and the opportunity to raise money for such a crucial project for the NHS.”

    You can follow Richard's progress training and during his run on Twitter @UCLHRunningMan and you can visit the team's JustGiving page here

  • March 2017: The latest timelapse showing construction progress

  • February 2017: The latest timelapse showing construction progress

  • 3rd Feb: Marking World Cancer Day

    We are delighted to introduce Varun, who had PBT in the States. His film tells his story of having cancer. Thanks Varun so much for sharing you film with us.

  • 31 January 2016: Richard Amos talks about his new role with UCL

    Almost three-and-a-half years ago I packed up my bags and flew from Texas to join the UCLH proton beam therapy team.
     
    As one of the few UK nationals who had worked at proton beam therapy centres, I was keen to share my knowledge and help bring protons to the NHS.  It was tremendous to be part of the team to procure the technology for the two NHS high energy proton beam therapy centres, and to design the UCLH facility. It is now very gratifying to see the progress on the construction site.
     
    But now, I am packing my bags again to return to Texas. Although I will be thousands of miles away, I am delighted that I am still part of the project.
     
    Working for UCL, my aim is to use the experience of the American proton beam therapy centres to further inform the development of the NHS service. In particular I will collaborate with investigators at MD Anderson Cancer Center, one of the world’s leading cancer research institutes with 11 years of clinical proton therapy experience, to correlate treatment delivery with treatment outcomes. Furthermore, I will collaborate with other US centres using the same equipment that will be used at UCLH to develop optimal treatment protocols for UK patients.
     
    It is exciting to be going back to Texas, but it is even more exciting to be continuing to be part of a team that will deliver this advanced treatment for the NHS.
  • January 2017: Latest time lapse footage

  • Laugh till it hurts

    Come along to a night of comedy to support our PBT centre.  
     
    By having a great laugh you will also help to raise funds to make our proton beam therapy centre the best it can be and to make help ensure that our patients have the least stressful journey through their treatment as possible.
     
    Taking place at the Bloomsbury  Studio, 7.30pm, Wednesday 10 May 2017, tickets are only £15. Book now using this link: https://www.thebloomsbury.com/event/run/16145
  • December 2016: Derek D'Sousa, Head of Radiotherapy Physics meets Gabi, the cyclotron

    On a whistle stop trip to Varian’s factory in the Germany, Nigel Church, chief radiotherapy engineer, Vasilis Rompokos, senior radiotherapy physicist and I met Gabi, the cyclotron that will be at the heart of UCLH’s proton beam therapy centre. We also witnessed testing of the cyclotron and I am delighted to say that these tests were successful.

    The impressive piece of equipment is the size of a car but weighs about the same as Boeing 747. Inside there are high powered magnets which strip protons from the hydrogen atoms in water.

    This short film show how the beam will make its way from the cyclotron to the treatment room.

    You can also read more about proton on this BBC bitesize article.

  • December 2016: The latest timelapse showing construction progress

  • November 2016: The latest timelapse showing construction progress

  • 23 November 2016: Building and baking

    During Great British Bake Off, the medical physics team had some fun baking proton beam therapy themed cakes. Here is Rachel Bodey's cake of our site where the PBT centre will be based.
     
  • October 2016: The latest timelapse showing construction progress

  • 26 September - Childhood Cancer Awareness month by Dr Yen-Ching Chang

    This month, charities and families have been raising awareness of childhood cancers – the need for early diagnosis, access to treatment and to raise money to support families and build the research base.


    Here at UCLH, I am one of the consultants who specialise in the treatment with radiotherapy of children and teenagers. UCLH is the largest radiotherapy centre for children teenagers and young adults in the UK, working closely with Great Ormond Street Hospital, and one of only two NHS proton beam therapy centres in the UK.
     

    We are marking childhood cancer month by looking at life after cancer.


    As survival after childhood and adolescent cancer improves, the focus moves from intensifying treatment to reducing the long term effects following treatment.  According to the British Childhood Cancer Survivor Study, 66% of adult survivors of childhood cancer experience at least one treatment related adverse effect. Late effects are dependent on the type of treatment used and can occur many years after treatment is completed.


    My colleagues, Susan Mehta, lead clinical nurse specialist and Dr Victoria Grandage, who lead late effects service at UCLH which provides long term follow up and advice to survivors of childhood and adolescent cancer, are hosting a web chat on 29 September between 1 and 2pm.


    I hope you can join them and ask your questions about the physical and emotional health issues that can arise after treatment has finished and how patients may be supported to deal with them. Click here to get more information and submit your question.  

  • 29 September 2016: Views of the construction site,
    a watercolour and timelapse

    Orthopaedic Surgeon Mike Oddy’s water colour of the construction site was part of the UCLH staff art exhibition. He explains why he chose to paint the site:

    “As an orthopaedic surgeon I am interested in the mechanical and engineering aspects of construction. There are similarities with what I do; we use drills and implants but just with different materials and scale to the construction site. I also have a young son who is obsessed with diggers so we hunt out these kind of sites!

    I painted from Grafton Way/Tottenham Court Road because I often walk past it going to my clinic at the Institute of Sport Exercise and Health. Over the last year or so, I have watch the demolition of the old Rosenheim hospital and now the construction work of the new facility begin.

    There is a small aperture on Tottenham Court Road which frames the site as a picture. I did the work by taking a series of photos and constructed a theme from them.“

    The new facility will include a short stay surgery centre as well as one of only two NHS high energy proton beam therapy centres and Europe’s largest centre for the treatment of blood disorders. As well as Mike’s picture, our time laspe camera is recording the build progress.

  • September 2016: The latest timelapse showing construction progress

  • 8 August 2016: Our game changing new blood disorder centre

    by Dr Kirsty Thomson, consultant haematologist

    It was really great to visit the construction site recently to see where our new centre for blood disorders is being built.

    At the moment extremely large machinery is digging around the perimeter getting ready for the basement part of the building to be developed.  The complexity of constructing the facility was fascinating, with the Bouygues UK team explaining that they build a virtual model of the facility to test and check issues prior to building in real life.

    Seeing the virtual models of the facility helped to strike home just how game changing the new facility will be when it opens in 2019.

    The proton beam therapy centre, which will be in the basement of the building, is obviously significant. It will be one of only two high energy NHS PBT centres in the UK and we will treat around 750 children and adults with hard to treat cancers every year.

    The blood disorders centre, which will be in two floors above ground, will also have a significant impact for patients.

    The new centre will be the largest in Europe and will mean we can treat more patients with blood disorders, driving forward improvements and innovations in treatments.

    The building itself will be state-of-the-art. With the highest possible specification, each room on the ward will have space for a family member or friend to stay with the patient, something which we hope will make a real difference to patients.

    We’re also really excited by the location, next door to the University College Hospital Macmillan Cancer Centre and across the road from the UCL Cancer Institute. This provides an amazing community of clinicians and academics, collaborating to ensure the latest research and innovations are translated into patient care as quickly as possible.  This recent film about using gene therapy to treat blood cancer is one exciting development at UCLH: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MDlYBDjNs3g

  • 27 July 2016: Latest time lapse showing construction progress

  • 21 June 2016: Cycling for proton beam therapy, Steve Last, Project Accountant, UCLH

    We made it!  Over an amazing two days, a team of UCLH and Christie staff cycled 220 miles from The Christie to UCLH. The hills were hard, but the overall feeling was of generosity – from those people who have donated to the proton beam therapy centre, from all the cafes, pubs and various places we stopped at for breaks on the way, and from the riders who gave up time to train and ride. Thank you.

     

    Special mention goes to the Territorial Army who donated food and accommodation in Leicester, Cycle Republic offering nutritional supplements and mechanical assistance and Varian, the PBT equipment provider who sponsored the cycling jerseys. And to Chris and Xand Van Tulleken who helped us celebrate at the end of the ride.

     

    Group shot - finish line

    At the finish with Chris and Xand Van Tulleken

     

    In other news, I was really pleased to beat an Iron Man on day one on my mountain bike! And will we repeat the ride? I am up for it!

    To support us visit www.justgiving.com/ManchestertoLondonPBTRide2016

  • 17 June: Latest timelapse showing construction progress

  • May 2016: The latest timelapse showing construction progress

  • 28 April 2016: Latest time lapse showing construciton progress

  • 5 April 2016: A very long bike ride for the new centre by Steve Last, Project Accountant, UCLH

    It is only 73 days until around 40 UCLH and Christie staff set off from Manchester heading to UCLH in London on a 220 mile bike ride on 17 and 18 June.

    These two Trusts are building the UK’s only NHS high energy proton beam therapy centres and all the staff involved in the ride are in some way involved in this great project. With completing the ride our number one aim, it is swiftly followed by raising at least £10,000 to support the centres.
     
    The money raised by UCLH staff will contribute to our overarching fundraising goal of £10 million. With the build and operational costs of the two centres entirely funded by government money, this extra money will be dedicated to making the centre the very best it can be. Read more about our fundraising here.

    So why did we decide to do a very long bike ride? Over the period of planning for the two centres, there was lots of talk and banter between the teams working at UCLH and The Christie about whether riding between the two sites would be possible. As a keen cyclist (I would cycle round Epping Forest every weekend when I was growing up and now spend my spare time on a bike), it was the perfect challenge to undertake.
     
    Luckily, with a high proportion of cyclists in the proton beam therapy team, I wasn’t alone. Over the last few months, we have developed our route and we are now in the midst of training. And, as well as us experienced riders, we have people in the team who are back on a bike for the first time since school. With rivalry between us old hands, we are also supporting the newer riders with tips and advice.
    With the route taking us through the Peak District on day one, it will challenge us all. The bit I am dreading most is getting back on the bike on day two for 120 mile ride!

    If you would like to donate please visit and thank you for your support:  https://www.justgiving.com/ManchestertoLondonPBTRide2016
     
  • 21 March 2016
    The latest timelapse showing construction progress

  • 8 March 2016: Podcasts by Kath and Ed Anderton and Yen Chang, UCLH proton beam therapy lead.

    This month we have two podcasts about proton beam therapy.

    The first is an interview with Kath and Ed Anderton, whose son Lennie had proton beam therapy when he was 15 months old.

    Click here to listen to Kath and Ed Anderton's podcast

    The second is an interview with Dr Yen-Ch’ing Chang, a paediatric consultant and UCLH lead for PBT. She explains how proton beam therapy works, its benefits and about the service that is being developed at UCLH.

    Click here to listen to Yen-Ch'ing Chang's podcast 

    Both interviews are introduced by James Richmond, a volunteer for our City Beat Radio.

  • 2 March 2016
    The latest timelapse showing construction progress

  • 4 February 2016
    Marking world cancer day
    by Prof. Geoff Bellingan, Medical Director for Cancer and Surgery Board, UCLH.

    Today is World Cancer Day; a global effort to improve people’s understanding of cancer, to support early diagnosis and promote treatment to reduce the number of preventable deaths from the disease.
     
    Looking back over the past 5 -10 years there has been really strong progress in cancer care and treatment, and I see so much to be proud of:

    • outcomes and survival rates for cancer continue to get better.
    • The number of people who have survived five or more years since they were diagnosed with cancer has increased by over a fifth (260,000 people) in the five years to 2015 in the UK[i].
    • research is also helping us develop better techniques to diagnosis and treat cancer and there are a number of exciting breakthroughs.
     
    But, there is much more we can do to make sure more people recover from cancer. Here at UCLH, we are working hard to improve and develop our cancer services.
     
    As part of an NHS England plan, we are becoming a specialist hospital for the treatment of blood cancers, brain, head and neck, oesophago-gastric and prostate and bladder cancers for patients from north and east London and west Essex. By concentrating these services across a network of specialist centres, the evidence is that we will be able to save more lives and achieve wider improvements in care than would be possible if these services were provided at a larger number of hospitals[ii].
     
    We are also investing in new approaches to earlier diagnosis so we can catch cancers before they become too serious and to improve the survival rates.  We are excited about the potential of opening up more capacity to patients and GPs for rapid access CTs for lung cancer and endoscopies for colorectal cancer.  We also want to track the impact of changes through a Centre for Cancer Outcomes and provide Chemotherapy closer to home as part of our plans. All of our learning from these new models of care will be shared through our national “vanguard” status.
     
    And we are building. Last year, we demolished an old hospital that otherwise would have needed significant and expensive repairs. In its place, we are constructing an amazing new facility that will make a real difference for people with cancer.
     
    PBT entrance
    The new facility on Grafton Way
     
    Housing one of only two NHS high energy proton beam therapy (PBT) centres, the new facility will mean that children like Annabelle Higgins, will no longer have to travel abroad for NHS funded proton beam therapy. This is a fantastic step forward for the treatment of cancer patients in the UK and will make a real difference for patients and their families. Many more children and adults will be able to receive the treatment than are currently able to abroad.
     
    For people with blood disorders, like Mohammed Hussain, the new facility will also be significant. We are developing the largest centre in Europe for the care and treatment of blood disorders at the facility. There will be four haematology and bone marrow transplant wards made up of 127 single rooms and a ten bedded critical care unit. Providing inpatient and outpatient haematology care, patients will be able to receive world class care in a world class environment.
     
    With the facility almost next door to University College Hospital Macmillan Cancer Centre and across the road from the UCL Cancer Institute, we are creating a hub of health and academic expertise. This combination of new services, world class buildings and close partnerships between clinical care and research and with our partners across north central and east london, makes me optimistic for further inroads which will mean better outcomes and survival for people with cancer.
     
    Remember you can watch the build progress through our time lapse cameras here.
  • 29 January 2016
    Developing an amazing clinical facility
    by Tahir Ahmed, construction lead, UCLH.

    Looking back at the past four years, the 9th December 2015 denoted one of the most significant achievements in my career. The ground breaking event for the new clinical facility on Grafton Way was without doubt a critical milestone in delivering a modern building which will house one of only two high energy proton beam therapy (PBT) centres in the UK, as well as treatment for blood disorders and a short stay surgery facility.
     

     L-R (foreground): Moataz Karmalawy of Varian Systems, Sir Robert Naylor, health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, Keeva and Andrea Hanbury, Bouygues UK construction MD Arnaud Bekaert, UCLH chairman Richard Murley and Julian Rhind-Tutt 

     
    The plans for the facility originated from a gathering of colleagues from various areas including physics, clinical, finance and estates. After a few years of numerous approval processes, millions of pages in written reports, a year-long negotiation process with the equipment vendors and building contractors, I am proud to be part of the team (over the time we have called ourselves a family) which will deliver this amazing facility and immensely excited we are on the way to materialising our aspirations and hopes.
     
    From the inception the scheme was always very challenging, the PBT centre is in the four floors below ground. Above ground there will be five clinical floors for blood disorder treatment and short stay surgery facilities (a sixth floor provides space for plant). All of this is located in the centre of London, which clearly would never be an easy task.
     
    A complex construction methodology, in a complex environment with complex equipment has already been commended by the world wide construction and proton industry as a breakthrough in delivering ambitious healthcare projects. In July 2015 the team has been complemented by the building contractor (Bouygues UK) and the equipment supplier (Varian) forming a perfect tripartite partnership working towards the same goal.
     
    In the background and in collaboration with the key stakeholders the design matures and flexibly responds to the needs of both patients and clinicians. The use of the newest Building Information Modelling technology allows for interactive interaction with the design and verification of the general buildability, enabling making informed decisions relating to the facility.
     
    Recently the time-lapse cameras have been installed allowing for project progress monitoring to be viewed  throughout  all of the  construction stages . The timelapse film is shown below and on our youtube channel. It will be updated on regular basis and we hope you will enjoy viewing the project to its completion.