New cancer support centre set for Leeds hospital

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A charity has been given the go-ahead to create a new cancer support centre at a Leeds hospital.

The Maggie’s centre is set to be built at St James’s Hospital after NHS bosses gave the plan their backing.

It will offer cancer patients and their families free emotional and practical support.

A purpose-built facility would be constructed, probably close to the Bexley Wing, which provides cancer care and treatment.

Dr Yvette Oade, chief medical officer at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, said the proposal for the centre fit with the strategy for the Bexley Wing – which is officially known as the St James’s Institute of Oncology.

The Maggie’s charity is named after one of its founders, Maggie Keswick Jencks, who died in 1995. The following year the first Maggie’s Centre opened in Edinburgh.

There are now 15 centres in the UK, one in Hong Kong and an online facility.

They offer complementary therapies, practical help, information, courses and support groups and are usually separate, but close to, hospital services.

Hospital directors were told that the charity had approached the trust about establishing a Maggie’s Centre in Leeds.

Experts at the centres are appointed and funded by the charity, and provide support which can aid psychological wellbeing – which there is already high demand for at the hospitals trust.

A report to the board said that there were national moves to focus on this for cancer patients.

“Discussions to date with Maggie’s have indicated that they are interested in developing a formal partnership with the Trust to deliver aspects of this ‘survivorship’ support to the cancer patient population. This provides an excellent opportunity to collaborate with an external partner to meet the growing supportive care needs of a large cohort of patients,” it added.

The report said the new centre would also address issues for some patients around the location of the Robert Ogden Macmillan Centre, which is near the Thackray Museum and also provides support services.

Both charities would be involved in the future, it added, with Macmillan likely to focus on its information and hair loss services and delivering some therapies. The new Maggie’s centre could be known as the Robert Ogden Building.

Dr Oade said the board needed to approve the proposal to planning to begin.

“What this will do is allow Maggie’s to get on and do the fundraising,” she said.

Maggie’s will be granted a lease for the site at a peppercorn rent and the charity would meet all construction, maintenance and running costs.

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