Patients and staff at the Royal Hospital for Children today met The Who frontman, Roger Daltrey CBE; Sarah, Duchess of York; and comedian Kevin Bridges when they officially opened the hospital’s new Teenage Cancer Trust unit.
The new unit, a replacement for the charity’s previous facilities at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in the Yorkhill area of the city, provides care for young people with aged 13 to 16 across the West of Scotland. Almost £400,000 has been invested in creating the unit as well as specialist staff and running costs.
The unit is a state-of-the-art facility designed to feel more like a home from home than a hospital ward. They are places where young people with cancer can receive expert, specialist care and meet others going through similar experiences, so they feel less alone and scared.
Connor McDowall from Glasgow was 12 when he was first diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia. He developed Acute Vascular Necrosis (AVN) during his treatment. After 2 years clear, he was re-diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia in February this year, aged 18. He is currently receiving treatment on the unit. Connor helped design the social space in the new unit and spoke at the opening event today.
He said: “I have made so many friends here and had some wonderful fun experiences both on and off the unit. The emotional support has made a big difference to me, whether it is just sitting chatting to Ronan, my Youth Support Coordinator or playing on the Xbox, it has been a great distraction at a difficult time for me.”
John Brown CBE, Chairman of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, said: “As a Board, we are proud to be home to such a fantastic and unique service. Cancer can be devastating and we are committed to supporting the health and wellbeing of patients and their families, helping people’s lives by tailoring the service to each individual’s needs. I’ve heard truly inspiring stories today from young people and their families that remind us of the importance of offering care and support from the point of diagnosis. I would like to offer our thanks to everyone who has made this possible.
Honorary Patron of Teenage Cancer Trust, Sarah, Duchess of York, said: "I’ve been supporting Teenage Cancer Trust for 26 years and these units and services make an incredible difference. Here teenagers can be teenagers despite the cancer and the place feels more like home from home. Every young person with cancer should have access to this specialist care and that's what we're striving for."
Roger Daltrey CBE, long-term Honorary Patron, said: “Every time we open a new ward it’s a very proud moment for me because I know they make having cancer a little bit more bearable. But our work in Scotland is far from over. We need to maintain our services and extend them so that every individual young person with cancer can receive the best possible care."
Teenage Cancer Trust Ambassador for the West of Scotland, Kevin Bridges, said: “Meeting these young people who've been landed with cancer so early in their lives is very humbling. No one should go through that alone. I’m proud to see the people of Glasgow getting behind Teenage Cancer Trust and helping raise money to keep these services open.”
Shona Robison MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport, said: “It’s been an honour to visit the new Teenage Cancer Trust unit, and to meet staff, and patients and their families. The close partnership between NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and Teenage Cancer Trust is a great example of working together to ensure a patient-focused model of care, prioritising the unique and individual needs of every young person with cancer.”
The new unit is situated within haemato-oncology ward 2A on the second floor at the Royal Hospital for Children. A group of young cancer patients were involved in the overall design, which includes eight bedrooms in total, made-up of six single rooms and two single bone marrow transplant rooms, all with en-suite bathrooms. There are also eight day-beds, split between two day case rooms. The bed areas have bespoke furniture, soft furnishings, wall art, mood lighting, TV and DVD players, WIFi and laptops. The unit also has a large social area where young people can play computer games, listen to music, or watch films on the latest Smart TVs.
The unit complements the unit at the Beatson, which cares for the older age range of 16 to 24 year olds. This means local young people with cancer aged 13 to 24 across the West of Scotland will have access to the specialist services the charity provides.