London

New £10m cancer unit opens at fire-hit Royal Marsden

The new cancer critical care unit at the Royal Marsden
Image caption The Royal Marsden was the first hospital in the world dedicated to cancer treatment and research

A £10m critical-care unit for cancer patients is to open at the Royal Marsden Hospital in west London, more than two years after the original ward was destroyed by fire.

About 180 patients and 800 staff were evacuated from the building in January 2008 after fire took hold of its upper floors and roof.

Five operating theatres and two wards were badly damaged by the fire.

The new unit will have 19 beds when it opens later in the summer.

The Royal Marsden was the first hospital in the world dedicated to cancer treatment and research.

Parents can stay

Part of the ward will have facilities especially designed for children.

Consultant Dr Tim Wigmore said: "We have a number of features that, as they get better, we hope they'll enjoy - for example, iPads, PlayStation 3s, internet access, social-networking access.

"We've also got areas where their parents can stay, very close to them as they progress through their illness."

The new unit had been designed "to make everything as good as possible for our patients", he added.

Damage from the fire forced the hospital in Chelsea to close.

But an insurance pay-out and charity donations have paid for the new unit and the repair of the 150-year-old building.

The cause of the blaze has not been disclosed, but London Fire Brigade said a report on its investigation was "at an advanced stage of preparation and should be with the relevant parties shortly".

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