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15 January 2015

New linear accelerator launched

NHS patients in the South West will benefit from state of the art radiotherapy treatment with the launch of a new generation linear accelerator (linac) machine at the Bristol Haematology and Oncology Centre (BHOC) this week.

The Elekta Versa HD linac, the first in the region, can be used on a wide range of tumours, including more complex ones where highly accurate targeting is needed. The machine can complete many treatments in a much shorter time, meaning less discomfort for patients, and has the added benefit of using 30% less energy than previous models.

Friends of Bristol Haematology and Oncology Centre have pledged to raise the £2 million cost of the machine, which treated its first patients in December. John Miles MBE, chair of trustees for the charity said: "everyone at the charity is delighted to see the new linear accelerator in use, but we are appealing to the public to help us raise the remaining £800,000 towards the cost of the machine until we reach our target of £2 million"

Dr Matthew Beasley, Consultant Clinical Oncologist and Head of Radiotherapy at BHOC stated: "This new machine will allow us to give radiotherapy with greater speed and precision. It will benefit patients with a whole range of cancers. I am extremely grateful to everyone who has raised money towards this appeal".

In addition to the linear accelerator, a further £80,000 has been raised for Friends of Bristol Haematology and Oncology Centre by Bristol man Alistair Cole. These funds have been used to purchase a VMAT Phantom, a piece of equipment which will also be used for many patients receiving complex rotational treatment on the linac to ensure they benefit from the most accurate dose delivery possible during treatment. Mr Cole's fundraising efforts included walking from Land's End to John O'Groats, and were in memory of his sister.

The launch event will be attended by one of the first patients to receive treatment on the new linac, representatives of the Trust's clinical and management teams and Trustees of Friends of Bristol Haematology and Oncology Centre.