RETRO: Hospital’s cancer care is still best in business

New sun lounge at Weston Park Hospital. 11 January 1990.
New sun lounge at Weston Park Hospital. 11 January 1990.
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Sheffield has been a home to pioneering cancer research for generations thanks to the city’s dedicated cancer hospital Weston Park.

In 1949, Sheffield became the first place in the country to pioneer the van de Graff generator to treat cancer by beaming radiation onto a tumour.

Professor Barry Hancock ready to run the Steel City Hlf Marathon Fun Run. 12 April 1996.

Professor Barry Hancock ready to run the Steel City Hlf Marathon Fun Run. 12 April 1996.

This £2m generator - which is now obsolete - was housed at the David Morrison Research Department. Some 20 years later, this centre became part of Weston Park Hospital.

The hospital was officially opened by Princess Anne in 1970 and it quickly became established as a centre of excellence for cancer care.

Over the past 65 years cancer survival rates have doubled, with six times as many patients being seen and treated at Weston Park in 2013 compared to 30 years before.

In 1999, the Duchess of Gloucester opened the hospital’s Cancer Clinical Trials Centre.

Weston Park Hospital. View of the ward Sister Jane Davis. 23 March 1970.

Weston Park Hospital. View of the ward Sister Jane Davis. 23 March 1970.

The centre, funded by the Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity, was unique in the UK at its time of opening and today remains one of only a handful of such specialist resources.

The charity continues its work to fund the core work of this important facility, making it possible for internationally-recognised, world class research to take place right here in Sheffield.

Since its opening, nearly 900 trials, involving over 16,000 patients, have taken place at the centre and pushed forward advances in cancer treatment.

The hospital’s Teenage and Young Adult ward, one of the first in the UK, opened in 2002 and led to more children and young adults surviving cancer.

The ward, for young people aged 16 to 24, has five in-patient beds and is currently being updated and enhanced. The £150,000 makeover was made possible thanks to Teenage Cancer Trust fundraising from Stephen Sutton - the remarkable teenager who blogged about his battle with cancer with an inspiring attitude up until his death in May 2014.

Further funds raised through the Weston Park Cancer Charity’s £1.3m ‘Do Your Bit’ campaign led to the opening of a ‘gold standard’ cancer treatment and research unit in 2014.

The new unit is giving even more patients opportunities to take part in life-changing cancer research studies.