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Western Trust radiotherapy project

The radiotherapy unit at Altnagelvin Hospital.

During the development of a new radiotherapy treatment facility at Altnagelvin Hospital, the Western Health and Social Care Trust (WHSCT) engaged with service users to ensure their views shaped the design of the service and the ward itself. This input from service users influenced the design of the radiotherapy ward and the ambulance service for patients at the facility.

At what level did the PPI take place?

  • Service development/delivery.

PPI helped the project to

  • Improve quality;
  • Inform commissioning.


The project was initiated in 2008 when the Regional Cancer Framework clearly indicated support for the development of additional cancer service capacity and identified Altnagelvin Hospital as the optimum site in relation to improving accessibility for people from the West of Northern Ireland.

In tandem with this, the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety Northern Ireland (DHSSPSNI) carried out an impact assessment of travelling times to each of the five cancer units in Northern Ireland based on projections which take account of population changes and cancer incidence. This assessment indicated that a combination of radiotherapy provision in Belfast and Altnagelvin would best meet the future radiotherapy needs of the Northern Ireland population.

Aim of involvement

Based on the impact assessment carried out by DHSSPSNI, the Minister of Health for Northern Ireland invited the WHSCT to progress a business case for a radiotherapy treatment facility based at Altnagelvin Hospital. The business case was progressed by a dedicated team who engaged with a wide range of stakeholders across the Health and Social Care Board, Cancer Control Programme, DHSSPSNI, specialist staff and service users to develop a culture of partnership to plan, develop and deliver a state of the art radiotherapy facility at Altnagelvin.

Throughout the development of the radiotherapy service there was extensive consultation with service users and members of the public in order to;
• Provide the public with an overview of the project;
• Gather information from service users and hear their opinions about the new radiotherapy service;
• Test design concepts;
• Ask for feedback.

Method(s) of Involvement

Outcomes due to involvement

Throughout this project service user and carer engagement and collaboration has continued, playing an integral role in the development of the new radiotherapy facility. As a result of this engagement, a direct ambulance route from the car park to the radiotherapy and in-patient ward has been included to protect the privacy of patients.

The design of the radiotherapy treatment suites was produced based on input from patients who had experienced radiotherapy in other hospitals. This lead to the use of interstitial blinds in bedrooms and shaped the design of the décor and signage in order to create a calm environment. Feedback from service users during the pre-service evaluation phase confirmed that their views had been incorporated in the design of the ward and that it was successful in creating a comforting environment.

Further Information

For further information, contact:
Una Cardin (General Manager Radiotherapy, Western Health and Social Care Trust)
Email: una.cardin@westerntrust.hscni.net