Duchess of York Opens £1.35m Teenage Cancer Trust Unit at Western General Hospital

Today, Sarah, Duchess of York opened a £1.35 million facility for young people with cancer aged 16 to 24 in the East of Scotland.

The Duchess also spent time chatting to some of the first young patients to benefit from the new facilities at the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh.

Around 200 young people are diagnosed with cancer in Scotland every year. Across the UK, that’s around seven new diagnoses a day. Suddenly these young people have to deal with a potentially life threatening illness, whilst finding themselves alone and scared in hospital. Many may never meet another young person going through the same experience. This can have a significant negative impact on their outlook, confidence and approach to treatment, as well as their ability to integrate back into life after treatment.

This new, state-of-the-art facility created in partnership with NHS Lothian offers young cancer patients from the Lothians, Borders, Fife and Dumfries and Galloway a place to receive treatment where they can feel at home. The facility also offers young cancer patients the best possible care and support as well as the best possible access to treatment options via the specialist team of nursing and support staff, all experts in teenager and young adult cancer care. The additional support local patients will now be able to receive from each other is also an invaluable part of this new service.

Bethany Millar-Gourlay, 19, was diagnosed with Leukaemia last summer and is one of the first patients to use the new facilities. Bethany said, “I used to come to the adult ward for treatment and I was the youngest there. Although the other patients were very kind to me I did miss people my own age and having things to do. I’m now having my maintenance chemotherapy at this new unit and it so different. It looks great and there’s a lot to do.”

Dawn Crosby, Teenage Cancer Trust Head of Service Strategy in Scotland said, “This unit looks amazing but more than that, it will significantly improve young cancer patients experience, helping them and their families feel less alone. All of the money has been raised locally in a really difficult financial climate. We want to say a massive thank you to everyone who has given generously and helped make this happen.”

Professor David Cameron, Director of Cancer Services, NHS Lothian, said: “We are delighted that the unit is now open and how it will make a real difference to lives of those young people with cancer in the Lothians and beyond. Today's opening is a culmination of hard work and dedication from NHS Lothian, the Teenage Cancer Trust and more importantly the patients who have helped shape the development of the unit. The unit will have a positive impact on the lives of young people who are undergoing treatment for cancer by offering the best possible treatment and support in the most appropriate setting.”

A group of young cancer patients worked very closely with Teenage Cancer Trust and the hospital architects to make sure the unit contains all the right elements needed to make young people feel at home. The result is a unit that is vibrant and colourful, decorated in purple, green and blue with eye-catching wall designs featuring the Edinburgh skyline. It has four single patient bedrooms with en suite bathrooms. It also boasts a large open-plan activity and social room which includes a kitchen and dining area, as well as an area to watch TV, a jukebox, and a gaming area. There is a day care room for outpatient treatment, and a quiet room where young people and their families can spend time. Wi-fi throughout the unit also allows young patients to keep in touch with friends and family in the outside world.

There are now four Teenage Cancer Trust units in Scotland:

  • Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Edinburgh, for 13 to 16 year olds
  • The Western General Hospital, Edinburgh, for 16 to 24 year olds
  • Royal Hospital for Sick Children (Yorkhill), Glasgow for 13 to 16 year olds
  • The Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre, Glasgow, for 16 to 24 year olds

Teenage Cancer Trust urgently needs to raise £500,000 in the West of Scotland to replace their Yorkhill unit with new facilities at the new Children’s Hospital in Glasgow. Visit www.teenagecancertrust.org for more information. You can also text GLA15 to 70500 to donate £5*.

Teenage Cancer Trust is the only UK charity dedicated to improving the quality of life and chances of survival for young people with cancer. Without the charity young people with cancer aged 13 to 24 are treated alongside babies on a children’s ward or elderly patients on an adult ward. Teenagers and young adults with cancer need to be treated together, by teenage cancer experts, in an environment designed to meet their specific needs. That’s why the charity develops and fund services that to do just that.

19/12/2013