A LONG-awaited radiotherapy unit in Worcester is to become a reality after hospital bosses signed the contract on the state-of-the-art facility.

Worcestershire’s first radiotherapy centre will be built at Worcestershire Royal Hospital and will mean cancer patients no longer face long journeys out of the county to receive their care.

It is estimated that the centre, set to open at the end of 2014, will save patients about one million miles of travel every year.

Worcestershire Acute Hospitals Trust has been working with local clinical commissioning groups and University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust to see that the vast majority of radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatments will be delivered within the county.

The centre will open with three radiotherapy machines but will have space for up to five, and the latest equipment will mean more effective targeting of tumours, less damage to surrounding tissue and less risk of complications.

Adel Makar, a consultant urological surgeon and Worcestershire’s lead cancer clinician, said: “This exciting new development will be the focus point for more specialist services developments for patients locally in Worcestershire.

“This constitutes a statement of intent to our commitment as a trust and a health economy to developing and delivering state-of-the-art local services for our patients.”

Acute trust chief executive Penny Venables called it “great news for our patients”, while former patient and throat cancer survivor Paul Crawford said the unit is “a dream come true”.

“Soon, most Worcestershire cancer patients will no longer have to travel miles out of county to obtain this vital radiotherapy treatment,” he said.

“Today marks the future for cancer services in Worcestershire.”

The contract with Worcestershire Hospitals was signed yesterday and the unit will be built by Lend Lease Construction.

The Department of Health is providing a £22.4 million loan for the project and the three new Worcestershire clinical commissioning groups are providing additional funding.