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
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
"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
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
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
The unit also includes a four-bed bay for those requiring
certain procedures or for those who may need to rest during their
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.
or call 01325 743576.
'The treatment I have received from all the staff has been
excellent and could you extend my thanks to them all. A very
thankful and relieved patient'.
Patient, Dermatology Outpatients Department, University Hospital
of North Durham