Spire Specialist Care Centre Chelmsford - Specialists in Cancer Treatment
I was recently invited along to take a look around the new Spire Specialist Care Centre in Chelmsford. Specialising in cancer treatment privately. It’s currently the only centre in Chelmsford offering this service.
Spire opened the centre in November 2015 following the success of its first centre in Bristol eighteen months before, and the purpose-built centre in Chelmsford is situated just behind Baddow Hospital in Great Baddow (just past Pontlands Hotel for those that know the area).
The first thing that struck me when I arrived was how much parking was available.
Having had to go to both Broomfield Hospital and Springfield Hospital recently - the latter of which is currently having a Genesis-owned cancer care centre built on site - I was dismayed at the difficulty in parking at both sites.
Broomfield is better than it has been in recent years thanks to the addition of their new car park a few years back, but Springfield Hospital’s car park is always packed, which makes finding a space a complete pain. This is only going to get worse when the new facility opens.
Thankfully there was no such issue at Spire and after parking up you can quickly tell that a huge investment has been made by Spire here.
Spire Chelmsford deal primarily with the treatment of cancer through radiotherapy, chemotherapy and hormone therapy on a purely outpatient basis.
Not that they are geographically restricted. Despite being based just a five-minute drive from the city centre, and close to the A12, the centre serves patients from all over the country, though it’s safe to say that the majority come from Essex, London and the surrounding areas.
I met with Natasha Taylor, the Business Development Manager, who showed me round the site.
Spire is very much a centre for the community. So much so that the centre has an open invitation for those that want to come and have a look around.
If it’s a community feel that they are after, then the centre is certainly set up in the right way. When you step through the front door you are greeted with an open foyer. A local radio station plays softly in the background and the front desk is staffed by friendly and helpful assistants.
The free-to-use coffee machine is an added bonus and it’s obvious that the building is designed to put people at ease. After all, if you’re dealing with cancer, the last thing you want is the hustle, bustle and general appearance of a busy hospital. You’d be forgiven for thinking that this was a warm, encompassing meeting place given the relaxed atmosphere.
As Natasha showed me around she told me:
Radiotherapy hasn’t been offered locally in Chelmsford until we opened last year, until then patients had to travel out to Southend or Colchester for their treatment. With Chelmsford experiencing massive population growth following the award of city status, we felt it imperitive to offer cancer treatment to those locally.
Helen Rollason Cancer Charity
One of the first things that Spire did was to team up with Helen Rollason Cancer Charity who is their charity of the year for 2016.
Where Helen Rollason Cancer Charity can offer support, advice and emotional wellbeing to those whose lives are touched by cancer, it is done alongside cancer treatment received elsewhere. This makes an ideal partnership for both sides as Spire specialise in cancer treatment.
We are also lucky enough to have two radiotherapy machines (known as ‘linacs’). This means that if one machine were to breakdown, our patients don’t have to wait or be transported to another facility entirely to continue their treatment.
I was surprised to hear that these machines are priced in the region of £2milllion pounds each so by having two of them Spire really are investing in the wellbeing of their patients. The total investment into the new cancer centre was roughly £14million pounds.
A little more digging reveals that Spire will be the only centre in Chelmsford to have two machines, eclipsing even the as-yet-unfinished Genesis Springfield centre which will only have one machine - a risky strategy should it ever break down and cause patients to move to the next nearest Genesis centre some 45 minutes away.
The two linear accelerators direct high energy beams to conform to a tumour’s shape and destroy cancer cells while sparing surrounding normal tissue.
Special additions include a 6 degrees of freedom couch and a wide-bore CT scanner equipped with 4D imaging capabilities. Although we’re straying into medical jargon, it’s probably better summed up by simply saying that they are state-of-the-art.
If that wasn’t impressive enough, then consider this. The UK has fewer linear accelerators per head of population than France, Germany, Netherlands, Italy and Belgium.
The development means a significant increase to the private provision of linear accelerators, which currently stands at only 20 machines nationwide outside London - two of which will be at Spire in Chelmsford.
To back up her own words regarding a community feel, Natasha has arranged an open day soon where previous patients and local businesses can have a tour of the centre and ask some of the questions you might not feel you can in other circumstances.
She has also recently started a Facebook page where she has angled the information for a public audience rather than a clinical one, stating:
Having any kind of a link with cancer is a harrowing experience and clinical speak can often make this all the more daunting. I want to make sure people have easy to understand information, the last think you need when trying to find information about cancer is to be confused by medical jargon.
Spire hope to be offering gene testing soon which will open the door to anyone concerned that a hereditary cancer is in their family.
To take breast cancer as an example as it is the most common cancer in the UK; Families with hereditary breast cancer generally show one or more of the following clues:
- Several relatives with breast cancer
- Breast cancer diagnosed before the age of 50
- Bilateral breast cancer (cancer in both breasts)
- Ovarian cancer
- Increased frequencies of other cancers such and prostate and pancreatic
- Male breast cancer
It is important to be aware that hereditary breast cancer can be present on either the maternal or paternal side of the family.
Genetic testing can help by determining the risk of cancer within a family and to guide appropriate cancer screening. Depending on the specific genetic risk different screening tests can be arranged and risk-reducing strategies can be considered.
The centre is yet another landmark for Chelmsford as the UK’s newest city continues to grow.
The centre specialises in treating all types of cancer using state-of-the-art treatment techniques.
The centre also has consulting rooms and an eight-bay chemotherapy suite, presented in a uniquely tranquil environment.