NHS chiefs hope a new radiotherapy unit could be built by 2020.

But bosses at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which will run the new Swindon centre, are waiting for the go-ahead from Whitehall.

They need the green light for a cash loan for around £13m to build the new unit east of the main Great Western Hospital building.

Dr Claire Hobbs, clinical director for oncology and haematology at Oxford University Hospitals Trust, said: “We are still waiting confirmation from the Department of Health and Social Care that we have secured approval for a loan to provide the capital funding required to complete the final phase of the project.

“Projects of this size are always complex but confirmation of the loan will then give us the green light for contractors to be appointed and a date for construction work to get underway.

“We want people living with cancer in Swindon and the surrounding areas to be able to receive their treatment closer to home through the development of a new radiotherapy unit at the Great Western Hospital.”

The £2.9m raised for the Brighter Futures appeal will go towards the costs of equipping the unit with two new linear accelerator radiotherapy machines. The equipment works by aiming high-energy x-rays at cancerous cells.

Robert Buckland, MP for South Swindon, said he was in contact with ministers to try and speed up the radiotherapy unit loan: "I am working hard to help make sure that the necessary authority for the loan can be given as soon as possible.

"It is great news that the appeal has reached £2.9m and a huge thanks is due to our local community, which has strived to achieve this with a range of events and initiatives that make me proud to be a Swindon MP."

Oxford's Dr Hobbs added her personal congratulations to Swindon fundraisers: “I would like to thank the people of Swindon and surrounding areas for their fantastic commitment to bringing cancer care nearer to home.

“This is an excellent Christmas present. We know how tiring and stressful it can be for patients to travel to Oxford for radiotherapy treatment and so we are delighted that we are a step nearer to our radiographers and other staff being able to provide the same high-quality care nearer to where people live.”