Cash injection for Western General after being granted research status

EDINBURGH'S Western General Hospital is set to become a world-leading centre for cancer research in a move which will lead to millions of pounds in extra funding.

It was confirmed today the hospital has been officially accredited with Cancer Research UK status, meaning more than 5.5 million a year will be pumped into the centre, allowing it to carry out more research and attract some of the globe's best scientists.

It also strengthens Edinburgh's reputation as a centre for cancer research, with Breakthrough Breast Cancer and Edinburgh University already working closely with NHS Lothian across the Capital.

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Professor David Cameron, professor of oncology and head of the health board's cancer services, will be clinical director.

He said: "This is a very exciting development for cancer patients and for research in Scotland. The new centre will help researchers and clinicians to collaborate and work together to improve the lives of cancer patients across the Lothians and Scotland.

"By building closer links between scientists and doctors we want to increase our knowledge about cancer and speed up the pace of research, leading to improved treatments for patients."

The centre will channel its energy into progress on bowel, breast and ovarian cancers, with other centres around the UK focusing on different cancers.

While it has only just been officially announced, research work has been going at the Western for sometime.

Purposefully situated next to the cancer wards, scientists who previously would have been hidden away in laboratories with little access to patients can now interact with consultants, doctors and nurses, improving the flow of information and the understanding between the ward and the lab.

Management organises social events to build bridges between the two groups.

Seeing teams of researchers mingling in and around the hospital gives patients hope, experts said, assuring them that plenty was being done to help them.

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It also means clinical trials can be carried out in the same place and monitored closely.

Dr Charlie Gourley, a senior figure in clinical research at the centre, said: "Having the patients nearby is absolutely crucial, and it also means interesting findings can be shared quickly.

"If we have an exciting new drug in the clinic and see it working in a lot of patients we can then help establish where it isn't working as well. All this can be done quickly because we are so close to each other.

"It isn't as simple as creating something in the lab and getting it out to the ward, it does take time. But 20 years ago this would not have happened."


SUSAN Oliver was among those taking part in a medical trial at the Western General when her cancer returned in 2006.

The 58-year-old from Dalkeith had initially been diagnosed in 2005 with ovarian cancer and underwent chemotherapy, which was successful at the time.

But it came back a year later, prompting her agree to a trial designed to extend her life and, more importantly, her quality of life.

It is trials like hers that the additional funding for Cancer Research UK will seek to extend.

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Pharmacist Ms Oliver said: "I knew the trial might have serious side effects, or it might do me no good at all, but I felt that it was still an opportunity worth taking, and I knew that I was in very safe hands.

"I knew it wouldn't cure my cancer, but the trial has given me two wonderful and healthy years to enjoy and I am so grateful for the opportunity to add to our understanding of cancer and improve the way future patients are treated."