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02 July 2013

Work starts on bunker build at Bristol Haematology and Oncology Centre

This week work will start on the construction of two radiotherapy bunkers at the Bristol Haematology and Oncology Centre (BHOC). 

On four separate days over the next nine weeks, enough concrete to cover 4.5 football pitches will be poured into the site of the bunkers, which are located under the BHOC's former car park. The concrete will form the ground floor slab, walls and ceiling of the bunkers, which will eventually be completely covered over with a landscaped area as the building work on the £16 million redevelopment of the BHOC progresses. 

The bunkers will replace two small, existing bunkers and house two new state-of-the-art linear accelerator (linac) machines, which deliver advanced radiotherapy treatments to adult cancer patients. 

Dr Matthew Beasley, Head of Radiotherapy at BHOC, said: "These new bunkers will allow us to install two cutting-edge linear accelerators which will deliver radiotherapy with even better precision and efficiency."

Local charity Friends of BHOC is donating £2 million to fund one of the new linac machines, which will ensure that the BHOC remains at the forefront of delivering world-class radiotherapy treatments.

John Miles, chairman of Friends of BHOC (, said: "Around half of all cancer patients are treated with radiotherapy and the majority of that radiotherapy is carried out on a linac machine.

"I'd like to appeal to anyone who has been treated with radiotherapy, or knows someone who has been or is currently receiving this treatment, to donate to our appeal. Every pound that the Friends raise stays in Bristol and will help ensure that the BHOC remains at the forefront of delivering world-class radiotherapy treatments."

Carol Vorderman, who visited the site today to support the appeal, said: "Please support this campaign. This new machine will make it possible for twice as many people to be treated, which is fantastic. You never know if you or a family member might need radiotherapy in the future. Every donation will really help."

The bunkers form part of a £16 million redevelopment of the BHOC, which in turn forms part of a more than £135 million investment by University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust to expand and improve its hospitals. From 2014, the BHOC will bring together an integrated adult bone marrow transplant, haematology and apheresis unit on one site, along with a specialist teenager and young adult cancer unit.

While the concrete for the bunker is being poured, vehicular access to the Bristol Heart Institute (BHI) will be restricted. From 6am for 24 hours, on Wednesday 3 July, Thursday 1 August, Wednesday 21 August and Wednesday 28 August, vehicles will not be able to access the BHI. Patients, friends and relatives are advised to use the alternative drop-off areas at the front of the Bristol Royal Infirmary on these days.