CORK University Hospital will be able to provide top-of-the-range cancer radiation treatment, once their new radiation oncology unit has been completed in early 2019.
Cork University Hospital wants to be one of the best cancer-treatment centres in Ireland and to make its mark internationally, with the help of the renowned UK cancer centre in Christie Hospital, Manchester.
Construction is underway on a €35m radiation oncology centre on CUH’s grounds.
The centre is expected to be completed by the end of February, 2019.
The Christie Hospital is among the top cancer-treatment centres in the world and it also carries out groundbreaking medical research.
With a long-term partnership envisaged between the Manchester hospital and CUH, this research could influence cancer treatment in Ireland.
“The Christie’s mission statement is ‘we care, we discover, we teach’, with a focus on excellent clinical care, as well as research and a strong academic focus,” said Jenny Scott, deputy director of business for the Christie.
“We’ve got a clear focus on innovation and one of the key innovations we’ve been looking at is around genomics and biomarkers in individual patients.
“We can look at the makeup of a person’s DNA and see what type of care or treatment would suit that individual, not just provide a blanket treatment for everyone,” Ms Scott added.
“This more personalised, precision-focused treatment for cancer is at the cutting edge.
“We’re carrying out a lot of research in the Christie, on an ongoing basis, and we would hope that, through research collaborations with CUH, we could look at how that might be able to have an impact.”
CUH staff, led by CEO, Tony McNamara, visited the Christie Cancer Centre in Manchester in 2016, to research the best treatment centres in the world, as an example for the new project in Cork.
The Christie Hospital offers consultancy advice to international clients seeking to establish new, state-of-the-art facilities or to improve existing ones.
The radiation oncology centre was discussed and the partnership between CUH and the Manchester centre began in autumn of last year.
“A couple of years ago, we started conversations with CUH, and Tony and the team came over to the Christie to speak about how we could develop a relationship and partnership,” said Ms Scott.
“We’re the largest, single-site cancer centre in Europe, and we have over 100 years of providing cancer treatments and care.
“Tony came to us with a vision of making CUH and Cork the best cancer-treatment centre in Ireland, so we looked at how we could work together and bring the experience and expertise of the Christie to CUH.”
With the new centre, which will focus on radiation treatment, set to open in February, much of the work between CUH and the Christie has surrounded radiation treatments.
“The focus of our work with CUH, to date, has been on radiation therapy,” said Ms Scott.
“We have had a team of radiation therapists, nurses, and consultants working with the CUH team, looking at existing therapy protocols and how we can advise around different issues.”
However, Ms Scott did not rule out the partnership branching out in future.
“Our focus, to date, has been radiation therapy, because of the new centre due to open, but we do have teams who specialise in chemotherapy and medical oncology, as well, so we could explore the possibilities of doing some partnership around that,” she said.
“80% to 85% of cancer treatments in the Greater Manchester area is provided in the community setting, in local hospitals and clinics.
“So, we could explore how we might take that forward for Cork,” she added.
“We’ve been looking at educational opportunities and are considering research partnerships, and Tony has a vision for the academic focus to be incorporated into CUH, as well.”
Speaking to the Evening Echo last week, Tony McNamara said that he hoped to see the partnership last long into the future.
Ms Scott confirmed that this, too, is the vision of the Christie Hospital.
“Our aim, within our international work, is to develop long-term partnerships. We don’t seek short ones,” she said.
“We want to be in a situation where we can share our ideas and support each other, look at research collaborations, and we would like to see that continue into the future with CUH.
“I certainly think it’s a partnership and, in a partnership, you learn from each other and we don’t see this as one-way traffic,” she added.
“In coming over, CUH and its staff help us to evaluate our own practices and we’ve seen good ideas over here, in Cork, which we have learned from, as well.”
Clinical care, research, and academia are the three pillars upon which the new centre in CUH, and the partnership between the two hospitals, will be built, according to Ms Scott.
“It’s about getting the basics of good clinical care right, so we’ve been focusing on ensuring we have the right clinical protocols and the teams have been working cohesively, as a multi-disciplinary team, making sure we have the best equipment, best training and educational and research opportunities,” she said.
“We were talking, today, about how we can strengthen the research collaborations.
“We will also be working with UCC on the academic side of things,” she added.
“We believe, with those three elements, our ongoing partnership over the next year will put us in a good position to support CUH in reaching their ambition of becoming the best cancer centre in Ireland.”