A HUGE expansion of Southampton General Hospital’s cancer unit has been welcomed as ‘fantastic’ in the hope it will cut a backlog in treatment.

Dozens of new beds are set to be created as part of the two-storey extension of the oncology ward.

If plans are approved some 48 new beds would be in place, made up of four four-bed bays with ensuite facilities. There would be eight single rooms, each with ensuite facilities.

The news comes as the pandemic continues to put on a strain on the NHS  – with cancer patients not seen as quickly as they should be at the hospital.

Neil Pearce, a consultant hepatobiliary surgeon and co-founder of the Southampton-based PLANETS Cancer Charity, said: “This is fantastic news.

“The oncology team have been pushing for this much-needed development for a long time and the UHS senior management team have now been successful in securing the funding to underpin this.

READ MORE: University Hospital Southampton set to open new cancer centre

“This will help to address the backlog of cancer cases requiring inpatient and day case chemotherapy, as well as putting us in a better position to address future developments within this field with a more modern estate, better suited to the needs of our cancer patients and the oncology team looking after them.

“We look forward to seeing the plans and seeing what we can do to help ‘put the icing on the cake’ to ensure that all of our local and regional cancer patients treated here get the best possible experience.”

A new cancer centre, Hamwic House, was opened last year.

University Hospital Southampton said work on the extension is set to start in May with an aim of completing by May 2023, with it ready for use in June.

A spokesperson from UHS said: “As part of University Hospital Southampton’s Strategic Delivery Plan, the development of two new wards will commence in May 2022.

“These are to be constructed on top of the existing Oncology Ward and Ophthalmology Outpatients.

“These new wards will each deliver 24 beds, made up of four four-bed bays with ensuite facilities and eight single rooms each with ensuite facilities.

“Construction is anticipated to complete in May 2023, with the wards operational in June 2023.”

The work is part of the trust's Strategic Delivery Plan, which was launched in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The new strategy focuses on capacity at the hospital, meeting the demand for the services they provide, and changing the way the NHS operates.

It comes as NHS figures show cancer patients at Southampton are not being seen quickly enough.

The NHS states 85 per cent of cancer patients urgently referred by a GP should start treatment within 62 days.

But NHS England data shows just 69 per cent of patients received cancer treatment within two months of an urgent referral at Southampton University Hospital in February.

That was up from 66 per cent in January, but down from 78 per cent in February 2021 last year.

A message from the Editor

Thank you for reading this article - we appreciate your support in reading the Daily Echo.

Subscribing to the Echo means you have unrestricted access to the latest news, features and Saints coverage - all with an advertising-light website.

You will also have full access to Saintsplus, your new home for Southampton FC tactical analysis, features and much, much more.

Don't take my word for it - subscribe here to see for yourself.

Follow the latest breaking news in the Southampton area by joining our Facebook group - Southampton News - Breaking News and Incidents

Follow the latest court and crime news on our dedicated Facebook group - Hampshire Court and Crime News