Eastbourne DGH receives vital funding for radiotherapy unit

The Masons presents cheque to Friends of Eastbourne Hospital. Left to right: John and Mavis Hunt, Mike Harris of Freemasons, Harry Walmsley of FoEH and consultant oncologist Fiona McKinna celebrate. Photo by Simon Purkiss SUS-170526-124655001
The Masons presents cheque to Friends of Eastbourne Hospital. Left to right: John and Mavis Hunt, Mike Harris of Freemasons, Harry Walmsley of FoEH and consultant oncologist Fiona McKinna celebrate. Photo by Simon Purkiss SUS-170526-124655001

Eastbourne hospital has received vital funding towards radiotherapy equipment for its new unit to treat cancer patients.

An event held at the DGH last night (Thursday) celebrated the generous donations of £50,000 from the Masons and £150,000 from the Medi Tech Trust.

The money was granted to charity Friends of Eastbourne Hospital, and will go towards a CT scanner. The radiotherapy unit aims to save patients travelling to Brighton or Maidstone for treatment.

Friends of Eastbourne Hospital chair Harry Walmsley said, “We are here to celebrate the very kind donation towards our radiotherapy unit.

“It’s so important for the people of East Sussex to come in and have treatment and not have to find somewhere to park in Brighton.

“We are extremely grateful for your donation tonight.

“But it’s also just not the big donations, we have had many from individuals, and they all count. We are almost there. Thank you very much.”

Mike Harris, chair of Sussex Masonic Charities, presented the cheque to the Friends. He said, “This is an absolute pleasure. It was for me a no-brainer to make up the short-fall of £50,000.

“I know this money is going to be well spent and well managed. I’m hoping it will make life a lot better for a lot of people. I’m very proud to be able to present this cheque.”

Then Fiona McKinna, consultant oncologist for Sussex, gave a presentation about how the donations will be used.

She said, “This has been a very long time coming. 90 per cent of people we asked wanted a radiotherapy centre closer to home.

“It’s been a painful process getting it sorted. We have had lots of stops and starts. The Government can’t stop it now, although they have had a go along the way.

“Every day there is a patient saying ‘I would have radiotherapy but I don’t feel well enough to travel’.

“It’s hard for older patients, but it’s also not very good for our young patients trying to keep working and keep their family going and support children.

“So this makes an enormous difference to us. I can’t thank you enough.”

Dr McKinna said the first patient is set to be treated on June 19 and the unit will be able to treat between 34-40 patients a day. She added that she hoped it would reduce waiting time.

Dr Adrian Bull, chief executive of East Sussex Healthcare Trust explained the Trust has many financial challenges it is facing.

He praised the donation as a ‘huge step’ and said it would ‘reinforce the services we are able to provide’.