Joy as £5.3m revolutionary breast care centre in Ipswich gets go-ahead

Ipswich Hospital's Breast Care team

Members of Ipswich Hospital's Breast Care team - Credit: East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT)

Cancer patients have been left overjoyed after Ipswich Hospital’s revolutionary new £5.3million Breast Care Centre was given the green light - but now your help is needed to raise the final £1.2m to make it a reality.

East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT) has long held the ambition to transform breast care services and bring the clinic, imaging department and breast screening under one roof.

An artist's impression of the mammography room at the new Ipswich Breast Care Centre. Picture: EAST

An artist's impression of the mammography room at the new Ipswich Breast Care Centre. Picture: EAST SUFFOLK AND NORTH ESSEX NHS FOUNDATION TRUST - Credit: Archant

That vision was finally realised this week when Ipswich Borough Council approved a planning application for the new facilities, with patients saying it will be make "such a difference" and be "so beneficial" to care in the future.

The new centre is due to open in the spring of 2022 - but the campaign is still not over.

Even though £4.1m has already been raised through NHS funding and the Colchester and Ipswich Hospital Charity's Blossom Appeal, £1.2m is still needed.

An artist's impression of the quiet room at the new Ipswich Breast Care Centre. Picture: EAST SUFFOL

An artist's impression of the quiet room at the new Ipswich Breast Care Centre. Picture: EAST SUFFOLK AND NORTH ESSEX NHS FOUNDATION TRUST - Credit: Archant

Paul Fenton, director of estates and facilities at ESNEFT, said: “It is great news for Suffolk that this build can go ahead.

"The new centre will be spacious, calming and fit to house state-of-the-art healthcare, and will make such a big difference to our patients.”

Why is a new Breast Care Centre needed?

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The number of patients needing breast care is on the rise - but there isn’t a dedicated clinic at Ipswich Hospital, with the breast care team sharing space with other departments.

Often, this means that patients need to walk backwards and forwards between departments, getting dressed and undressed between each one and spending longer in waiting rooms.

An artist's impression of how the entrance to the new Ipswich Breast Care Centre would look. Picture

An artist's impression of how the entrance to the new Ipswich Breast Care Centre would look. Picture: EAST SUFFOLK AND NORTH ESSEX NHS FOUNDATION TRUST - Credit: Archant

Consultant breast surgeon Caroline Mortimer said: “Our fabulous clinical teams already provide gold standard treatment, and this new centre will give them an environment to match.”

Mandy Jordan, associate director of Colchester and Ipswich Hospitals Charity, said: “All the money raised and donated through the charity will go towards making the centre state-of-the-art.

"There will be extra equipment, artwork, peaceful indoor spaces and gardens. We can provide dedicated areas for patients to be able to hold support groups and meetings."

'Breast centre would make such a difference'

Laura Dolan, who had eight rounds of chemotherapy and surgery after being diagnosed with Triple Negative breast cancer aged 43, said: “Having an integrated breast centre would make such a difference to patients in the future."

Cancer survivor Laura Nolan said the Breast Care Centre at Ipswich Hospital would make 'such a difference'

Cancer survivor Laura Nolan said the Breast Care Centre at Ipswich Hospital would make 'such a difference' - Credit: Pagepix

The mum-of-three, who is now in remission, said: "My diagnosis had a huge impact on me and my family.

"I was young – only 43 at the time. I was fit and healthy with no family history of breast cancer. I went from being a busy working mum to a cancer patient.

"It was an anxious and worrying time for us all.

“I cannot fault the staff at Ipswich Hospital. Everyone has supported and cared for me from the moment of diagnosis, through treatment and even when I popped in recently for a little niggle I had.

"Having more space would really help with anxiety levels when you go for treatment, and it would be so beneficial to have an environment that wasn’t quite so clinical.

“The care the breast clinic provide is second to none, but the facilities aren’t great and they need to be better to continue to provide that level of care.”

'One centre would make it so much easier'

Woodbridge's Kirstie Boxall, who was diagnosed with Triple Negative cancer aged 52 in 2017, said: "Having one centre for all the care and treatment would make it so much easier for patients and alleviate a huge amount of anxiety patients would have when they walk through the door."

Kirstie Boxall has backed the Blossom Appeal for a new Breast Care Centre at Ipswich Hospital

Kirstie Boxall has done her bit for the Blossom Appeal by swimming the equivalent of the length of the English Channel - Credit: Pagepix

The mum-of-one, who is also now in remission, undertook an intense course of chemotherapy as part of a drugs trial to help battle the cancer.

She also received radiotherapy and had several operations at both Ipswich and Colchester hospitals.

"Treatment was pretty intense, and I found it exhausting, but I had my faith in the team," she said. "They were all wonderful and so supportive.

“I’m so proud of my family too who kept me buoyant throughout the treatment.

“The team is just great – so very professional but so very familiar when you go.

"It’s amazing how they operate in such a disjointed treatment area, which is pretty stressful from a patient’s point of view having to walk across the hospital for one thing and then the other side for another.

Kirstie Boxall has backed the Blossom Appeal for a new Breast Care Centre at Ipswich Hospital

A montage of pictures from Kirstie Boxall's cancer treatment. She believes a new Breast Care Centre at Ipswich Hospital will make a huge difference - Credit: Kirstie Boxall

"It’s also not great that it’s called Clinic C!

“A garden space would be great and so too would a private area. There were times I was so desperate to get out of the hospital or go away from the treatment area – a garden to escape to would be such a benefit.

"It would make what isn’t a great experience just that bit nicer and more bearable.”

Kirstie has also done her bit for the Blossom Appeal - swimming the length of the English Channel in a local  pool in 2019, raising more than £3,000.

Donate to the Blossom Appeal here.

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