Publish date: 06 September 2021

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, who is also the MP for our local constituency, visited UCLH on Friday 3 September and was shown around the Grafton Way Building by our chief executive and chair.

Sir Keir met David Probert, who was in his first week as chief executive at UCLH, and Baroness Julia Neuberger, as well as several staff based at the new building.

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Three floors of the Grafton Way Building, housing eight new theatres, a surgical ward, an imaging centre and a critical care unit opened in April 2021 to enable UCLH to create a COVID-19 protected environment where planned ear, nose and throat, oral and orthopaedic surgery can take place.

Sir Keir heard about the challenge of balancing the need for staff to recover from the intense and ongoing COVID-19 pandemic with the need to catch up on elective surgery so patients wait as short a time as possible.

 David said: “It was a pleasure to welcome Sir Keir to UCLH and to share with him the frankly incredible efforts of the teams here to care for all our patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Alongside treating people with COVID-19, we are focused on ensuring everyone gets timely care. While it is a long road ahead, having this separate COVID-19 protected facility means we are in a strong position to do this.”

The remaining elements of the building are due to open later this year. Below ground will be one of only two NHS proton beam therapy (PBT) centres, with the other based at The Christie in Manchester. PBT is a type of radiotherapy which is used to treat rare and hard to treat cancers. These may be cancers in the brain, on the spine, or near the reproductive organs, where it is particularly important to protect the surrounding tissue.

The top three floors of the Grafton Way Building will be home to a world-leading blood disorder centre, which will include research into rare or complex cancers.

You can read more about how teams at UCLH are working to reduce waiting times in this article by the Guardian.