A RADIOTHERAPY unit could open as early as 2017 at the Great Western Hospital after proposals for a new centre were submitted to planning chiefs.

Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust have lodged a planning application for the new service which would allow thousands of cancer sufferers in Swindon to receive care on their doorstep and avoid the long drive to John Radcliffe Hospital for radiotherapy treatment.

Earlier this year, the OUHT board proposed to invest £14.7million in a new unit to be built at GWH with the hospital asked to raise the remaining £2.5m necessary to make the service a reality.

The application will be put to Swindon Council’s planning committee for approval.

The single-storey unit, which would eventually be part of a larger cancer centre, would include an internal courtyard to allow natural light to filter through the building and make the setting as reassuring, welcoming and calming as possible for patients. It would also offer 24 parking spaces and five dedicated disabled bays.

In the application, OUHT said the new satellite unit would bring care close to home for Swindonians who currently have ‘to travel considerable distance’ to Oxford.

“The trust have worked closely with Great Western Hospitals NHS Trust to develop the design for a new Satellite Radiotherapy Unit on the Great Western Hospital site in Swindon to allow these vital services to be brought closer to patients who currently have to travel considerable distance to Oxford for radiotherapy treatment,” said a spokesman.

“The design of the Satellite Radiotherapy Unit has been done in close consultation with all stakeholders from the Oxford University Hospital Trust and Great Western Hospitals NHS Trust and included consultation with patient representative groups with a strong focus on delivering care in a state-of-the-art environment that feels calming and compassionate and is conducive to the healing process.”

Cancer patients in and around Swindon currently have to travel up to 90 minutes each way to Oxford to use one of five machines available. This is much more than the 45 minutes recommended by the National Radiotherapy Advisory Group.

On average each year, patients from Swindon and Wiltshire make 13,000 trips to Churchill Hospital’s radiotherapy department and spend nearly 20,000 hours, or more than two years, on the road.

Dr Guy Rooney, medical director at the Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundations Trust, said: “We are really pleased that a planning application has been made to Swindon Council to build a radiotherapy treatment facility on the Great Western Hospital site.

"We are committed to bringing radiotherapy to Swindon and continue to work closely with Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust.”