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X-Factor star opens newly named ‘Woodlands’ chemotherapy unit

woodlands opening chemo unit

X-FACTOR star Joe McElderry officially opened County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust's new £500,000 chemotherapy unit at Shotley Bridge Community Hospital on Tuesday 25 June.

 The Trust appealed for help from the public in naming the new unit, receiving dozens of suggestions from local people. Staff at the hospital selected 'Woodlands,' which was suggested by Joan Dodds, from Stanley.

 Mrs Dodds, said, "I was so surprised when I heard my suggestion had been chosen. I thought of the 'Woodlands' name, because there used to be the Woodlands ward at the original hospital in Shotley Bridge. I thought it would be nice to remember that history."

 Mrs Dodds recently had her own cancer scare. She had suspected ovarian cancer and underwent a hysterectomy in March.

 "Thankfully, the test results came back benign, and it was a huge relief," she explained. "But like lots of families, mine has been affected by cancer - my Gran died of cancer of the oesophagus and my Grandpa died of stomach cancer, and both my brother-in-law and father-in-law died from cancer. I could have ended up being treated at the new Woodlands Unit if my results had been different. We're very proud of our community hospital and pleased to have the new Woodlands Unit - it's a fantastic facility."

Sandra Gaskill, ward manager explained, "We felt the name 'Woodlands' was appropriate as it reflects the relaxed atmosphere of the ward. It was also a fitting tribute to the history of the hospital and the local area as well, which we liked. The Woodlands Unit has been created with patients and local people at its heart. We're very proud of it and we're thrilled Joe is coming to officially open it for us."

 Joe McElderry said, "I'm delighted to be able to open the new Woodlands Unit at Shotley Bridge Community Hospital. Cancer affects so many families, so it's great that this excellent facility is now available for them. "

 Patients visiting the new Woodlands Unit at Shotley Bridge Community Hospital, can receive chemotherapy, as well as blood transfusions and supportive therapies. It opened at the end of December 2012, giving people easier access to services, some of which were previously only available at the chemotherapy unit at the University Hospital of North Durham.

 Sister Sandra Gaskill added, "Having this new unit is really all about providing patients with services they need, closer to home. Some patients may still need to be treated at Durham for some of their treatment, but for many, coming here is much easier.

 "The reaction to the new facilities has been fantastic," she explained. "Many people with long term illnesses are often fatigued by their condition and the treatment, so for some, travelling to Durham every week was very difficult. Now, they can come here and it's a lot easier for them and their relatives. It's made a big difference to their quality of life."

 The new purpose built unit is much bigger than the former chemotherapy unit at Shotley Bridge Community Hospital, which means the County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust can now provide patients with an improved range of services, closer to where they live. It is also bright and airy, with lots of natural light from large picture windows overlooking stunning views of the Derwent Valley, which have proved popular with patients.

 Julie Dalton, 54, from Anfield Plain was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007, and prior to the new Woodlands Unit opening, she was receiving treatment at the University Hospital of North Durham, visiting once every three weeks to collect her chemotherapy tablets.

 The mum-of-two, is a retired nurse who worked at Shotley Bridge and Durham hospitals for more than 30 years. She said, "The staff at both hospitals are lovely, but I found it very busy at the chemo unit at Durham. At first the chemo made me feel tired as well, so travelling down there added to that.

 "The new unit at Shotley Bridge is lovely, it's really well laid out, there are all the different rooms for different treatments and it's so comfortable. It's so much more convenient for me, it's five minutes from home, easy to park, and it makes such a difference. I think it's excellent."

 The facilities are not just for cancer patients though. Sandra explained: "As well as chemotherapy, we do blood transfusions and treatments for patients with long term illnesses from the local community.

 "The extra space we now have also means we are able to provide weekly holistic therapies , as well as other supportive services for patients, that previously they  would  have only been able to access at Durham."

 With more than twice the amount of space previously available on the former chemotherapy ward, patients now have a large, comfortable lounge area, where they can watch TV and socialise with other patients or their relatives, whilst  having treatment.

 There are quiet rooms for patients wanting to have more privacy during or after their treatment and a therapy room where holistic treatments, such as massage, will be available from visiting therapists.

 The unit also includes a four-bed bay for those requiring certain procedures or for those who may need to rest during their treatment

 The extra space has also allowed the unit to have a staff meeting room and educational dates are to be set for both staff working on the unit, patients and community staff.

 Anyone with old photographs or memories of the original Woodlands Ward at Shotley Bridge Community Hospital is asked to contact County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust. It is looking to make a display in the Woodlands Unit of archive images. Contact or call 01325 743576.

'Every aspect of my emergency care was dealt with quickly, efficiently and professionally with full explanations and compassion from all staff involved'.

Patient, Emergency Department, Darlington Memorial Hospital