Your questions

Please take a look at our frequently asked questions below. If you can’t find an answer to your question, please send us an email.

Why can’t we stay at the current Velindre Cancer Centre site?
The number of people diagnosed with cancer is increasing.

The 60 year-old Velindre Cancer Centre does not have the facilities or space to meet this future challenge.

Where will the new Velindre Cancer Centre be located?
The preferred site is land, referred to locally as the northern meadows, located about half a mile north east of the current Velindre Cancer Centre.

Why it must be built on the site of the northern meadows?
The northern meadows was selected because it is NHS owned where the principle of development is already well established and agreed by the council.

(The council has already granted planning permission for housing on the site).

The site’s proximity to the M4 and A470 means that it provides easier access for three quarters of our patients who travel to us from across south East Wales. They will no longer have to travel into the village of Whitchurch.
Thirdly, the site provides the space and quality of outlook which will help our patients and their wellbeing at difficult and anxious times.
If we did not build the new cancer centre on the northern meadows site we would lose two more years and the money it costs to find a new site and develop plans for it. We would face the uncertainty of applying for planning permission and negotiating acceptable land agreements. More importantly, the current site does not meet modern hospital standards and there’s no space for development. Over a further two years, our current services, site and equipment would be stretched beyond what they can cope with. People with cancer would feel the consequences.

Who owns the land on which the new cancer centre is planned?
The northern meadows site, which is next to Whitchurch Hospital, is owned by Cardiff and Vale University Health Board. We plan to swap the site for the existing Velindre Cancer Centre land.

Why can’t you build on the existing Whitchurch Hospital site instead of the northern meadows?
The site is not big enough to achieve the patient experience we are aiming for.

The northern meadows site is bigger than the current Velindre Cancer Centre and Whitchurch Hospital sites put together.

It will also improve access to the new Velindre Cancer Centre for three-quarters of our patients who come from areas outside of Cardiff.

The old Whitchurch Hospital is also listed which makes it difficult to redevelop as a modern cancer centre.

Which other sites did you consider for the new Velindre Cancer Centre?

We selected the site after reviewing other potential options in the wider NHS estate. We identified potential sites at Llanfrechfa Grange, north of Newport, land opposite the Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport and land adjoining the University Hospital of Wales (UHW) in Cardiff.  At that time, our aim was to construct the hospital in 2021/2022 and these sites did not provide what we needed. The Newport sites were not geographically suitable because the majority of our patients live in the Cwm Taf Morganwg and Cardiff areas.  The site near UHW was too small for our needs.

We also reviewed the possibility of building on the current Whitchurch Hospital but this was too small to construct the cancer centre to the required standards.  Land to the south west of Whitchurch Hospital has outline planning permission for a hospital but is too small.

We also considered another site next to Whitchurch Hospital but it wasn’t big enough.

We undertook a brief review of the position in 2017 and the NHS owned land at the northern meadows remained the preferred site. It offers access for patients off the M4 and A470. It had planning permission granted on it previously. It is owned by the NHS and it worked for our timescales at the time for construction of the cancer centre.

 

 

Are we certain to have a new Velindre Cancer Centre?
The Welsh Government is committed to opening a new cancer centre but we still have some way to go before it can be guaranteed.

We need the Welsh Government’s support for our business cases and they are currently scrutinizing them.. We need to procure contractors to build the access roads as well as the cancer centre itself. And we need to gain the necessary planning permissions.

When will construction of the new Velindre Cancer Centre begin?

If everything goes smoothly, we expect to finalise the design of the bridges over the former railway cutting in the summer of 2020. Asda has agreed to change its car park and the entrance roads to its site after Easter 2021.

We plan to start building the new Velindre Cancer Centre in 2022.

When will the new Velindre Cancer Centre open?

If we get the planning permissions, funding and contractors we need, we will open the new Velindre Cancer Centre in 2024.

Will there be a second, emergency, access to the site?
Yes, every hospital needs a second access for use in emergencies if the main access cannot be used. We have planning permission for access via the Hollybush estate which could only be used in emergencies.

Emergencies are defined as times when the main access is unavailable. There is no Accident and Emergency service at the new centre.

How many construction jobs are likely to be created during the building work?
The number of jobs on site will vary at any one time, up to about 500 at the peak period. After we have agreed the design and construction method and appointed contractors, we will be able to give a more definitive answer about the numbers and how many are newly created.

Will the building of the new cancer centre comply with the Well-being of Future Generations Act?
Our plans will help achieve the seven goals set up by the Act. We have adopted the five ways of working – the sustainable development principle – set out by the law.

We have explained our plans to the Future Generations Commissioner and remain in contact with her staff.

Which other methods of transport have been considered to help access the new Velindre Cancer Centre?
We are working with Transport for Wales, Cardiff City Council and other organisations to make sure that patients, staff and the public have a wide range of transport options into the site.

We also want to provide a number of footpaths and cycle routes.

We support proposals for a new South Wales Metro station serving the new cancer centre.

Will there be enough parking for staff and patients on site?
Yes. We have planning permission for 755 car parking places on the new site. This is 390 more places than we have at the moment. We will put in place a green travel plan to help staff get to work by public transport, by bike and on foot.

Will there be a charge for car parking at the new Velindre Cancer Centre?
No. Parking will be free of charge.

How will access to the new site via Coryton Roundabout be improved?
The slip-road directly off Coryton Roundabout will be widened and improvements made to the roundabout. This will help ease traffic flow.

How many people will work at the new cancer centre?
There are about 730 staff working at the Velindre Cancer Centre at the moment. We expect this to rise to more than 800 by the time we open the new centre and possibly to more than one thousand twenty years after that.

How many patients will be treated at the new cancer centre?
By 2031, we will be able to treat more than 8,500 new patients a year, an increase of 2,000 on current numbers.

We estimate that, in the same time period, the number of patient appointments at the centre will increase by 20,000 to a total of 160,000 a year.

The increase in patients using the cancer centre results from the forecasted growth in the number of people who have cancer. Our catchment area remains unchanged.

Can I get care closer to home if it suits me best?
Cancer patients across South East Wales often tell us that they want treatment closer to home.

Where it is clinically appropriate to do so, we want to make sure that patients receive treatment and care where it is most convenient for them. We are therefore working with partner organisations across South East Wales to develop more services and treatment across the region.

We plan to provide more care at home, to work with a new satellite radiotherapy centre at Abergavenny and with chemotherapy and outpatient centres in a small number of locations across South East Wales.

Is the new cancer centre more about research than treating patients?
No, that’s not true.

The number of people referred to us with cancer is growing every year.

The new Velindre Cancer Centre will have the capacity for 8,500 new patients and 160,000 patient appointments a year – up from the current levels by two thousand and 20,000.

It will also further support international research and development aiming to make Wales a leader in cancer treatment.

Shouldn’t the new cancer centre be built on the site of a larger acute hospital?

No. We considered these options with our staff, partners and patients and concluded that the proposals we are now pursuing work best for us all.

Velindre provides a regional service, supporting patients from across south east Wales. Our staff already work closely with, and on, a number of hospital sites and will do so more in future.

The model for the way we provide services is modern and fits with the lessons of COVID-19 which show that there should be an appropriate separation between acute and elective care.

It also aligns with the Welsh Government’s plan for health and social care in Wales. “A Healthier Wales”, published October 2019, sees large general hospitals in future supporting the delivery of specialist services across networks of hospitals and centres of excellence. Our plan for a new cancer centre of excellence, on its own site, and part of the Cancer Services Network, is in line with this policy.

Our plan also reflects the reality that there is no existing hospital site which has the space to hold eight specialist radiotherapy machines.

The new Velindre Cancer Centre is part of a programme to transform cancer services across the region. Our aim is to treat more people, help people live longer with cancer and care for more people closer to home.

Despite treating more people closer to home, there’s still a growing need for a centre where patients receive specialist services such as radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

The new cancer centre in Whitchurch will be ideally located to provide these services to patients whether they are travelling from Bridgend, Barry, Brecon or Chepstow.

Our approach has the support of the health boards and their clinicians from across the region and was developed after engaging hundreds of clinicians, patients and partners. It’s been subject to scrutiny and independent review.

You can read more on this link: http://www.transformingcancerservices.wales/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Why-not-build-a-new-Velindre-Cancer-Centre-on-another-hospital-site.pdf

Wouldn’t it save on ambulance journeys if the new cancer centre was built on an acute hospital site?

We treat tens of thousands of patients at the cancer centre every year and fewer than thirty patients a year on average need an unplanned emergency transfer.

Of these thirty patients, fewer than ten patients a year are critically unwell and have access to the Emergency Medical Retrieval and Transfer Service (EMRTs) who can assess, stabilise and transfer these unwell patients to the University Hospital of Wales (UHW). UHW is less than three miles away and can be reached within minutes.

If the new cancer centre was on a large acute site, the size of the site could still mean that patients need an ambulance transfer.

How do you get access to surgical and comprehensive medical acute support services off site quickly and safely?

Our staff are key members of existing local multi-disciplinary teams made up of people from different NHS organisations. Working through these teams, care is delivered by the right staff at the right location for the patient.

Only a few Velindre patients need these services acutely. When they do, as with services in other smaller hospitals, we move them to the most appropriate place based on clinical need. In some circumstances, this may be the hospital closest to the patient’s home.

We are also working with all our health board partners to look at a more integrated regional approach to acute oncology through the Regional Commissioning Partnership Board. This will mean patients being admitted and cared for at the appropriate acute hospital unit in south east Wales based on clinical need with the support of Velindre specialist cancer staff.

Will research at Velindre be adversely affected by the separation from a major university hospital?

Velindre already has active research programmes and we work closely with more than one university. We have developed a Memorandum of Understanding to further develop a more collaborative approach to cancer research with Cardiff University.

We plan to develop our research programmes further in the new cancer centre where we’ll have a Collaborative Centre for Learning, Technology and Innovation.

Has there been an independent clinical review of the proposed model for Velindre for the 21st century?

The proposed model is an improved version of the way we provide services now which is regularly reviewed and inspected.

The way we plan to provide services was developed after engaging hundreds of clinicians, patients and partners in dozens and dozens of events.

The proposal to build a new Velindre Cancer Centre has also been subject to scrutiny and review.

In 2017 an external review of the project was carried out with clinical input – as required by the Welsh Government.

In addition, we also established a Clinical Advisory Group which had senior clinical representation from health boards from the Wales Cancer Network. The remit of this group was to ensure that the service model was clinically robust and to provide multi-disciplinary and organisational advice and challenge to the Trust. The Clinical Advisory Group signed off our clinical model.

Has Velindre engaged properly with Cardiff and Vale University Health Board about the proposed redevelopment of University Hospital of Wales (UHW), and integration of cancer services on that site?

There is continuous engagement with the health board on cancer services, operationally and strategically. This ensures robust acute care support across all specialities, medical and surgical.

The proposed redevelopment of UHW is still in its very early days. Their timescale is very different to ours but we speak to the health board regularly.

It’s taken nearly ten years for us to get to this stage and it would be surprising if a new UHW – a much bigger project – could be completed more quickly.

We will continue to engage enthusiastically and whenever possible with the health board. The development of the new Velindre Cancer Centre and, in time, a new UHW offers opportunities to deliver more integrated care and co-located services – such as haemato-oncology, diagnostics and primary care -across Cardiff. We certainly envisage the need to develop a unit for acutely unwell or early phase clinical trials, ideally on the current as well as the future UHW site.

Have you revisited plans for a new Velindre Cancer Centre since the COVID-19 pandemic?

COVID-19 reinforces the case for a new Velindre Cancer Centre and, in particular, the need to separate patients with COVID-19 from immunocompromised cancer patients. This helps keep them safe and maintains access to essential treatments like chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

With COVID-19 in mind, we are actively reviewing the detailed design of the rooms and space we need in the new Velindre Cancer Centre. The new building will comply with the infection prevention and control principles that have been so important during the pandemic.

Learning from the COVID-19 experience, as a separate site we will be well placed to explore other opportunities. These include a greater role in the diagnosis of cancer and increased collaboration with primary and community oncology services.

Why is the new Velindre not following the model developed at Clatterbridge in Liverpool?

Velindre is ideally located to support patients across south-east Wales – a different geographical and population challenge to the one that was faced by Liverpool’s Clatterbridge Cancer Centre. Clatterbridge’s Wirral base was neither central to its catchment nor close to where most of its patients lived.

Our staff work closely with, and on, a number of hospital sites already and will do so more in future.

The new Velindre Cancer Centre is part of a programme to transform cancer services across the region. Our aim is to treat more people, help people live longer with cancer and care for more people closer to home.

Despite treating more people closer to home, there’s still a growing need for a centre where patients receive specialist services such as radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

The new cancer centre in Whitchurch will be ideally located to provide these services to patients whether they are travelling from Bridgend, Barry, Brecon or Chepstow.

Our approach has the support of the health boards and their clinicians across the region and was developed after engaging hundreds of clinicians, patients and partners in dozens and dozens of events. It’s been subject to scrutiny and independent review.

Does the development of the new Velindre Cancer Centre learn from the Mount Vernon Report?

The Velindre Cancer Centre is very different to Mount Vernon in terms of its geography, population and workforce challenges as well as collaborative working arrangements.

Velindre has not faced the same challenges regarding recruitment and retention of staff and the resulting impact on training. Our network of services with the three health boards in south east Wales give us a strong regional focus for our services.

We have considered the lessons learnt from the Mount Vernon report around the management of unwell patients and, as a result, we are refining our current service.

We continue to develop and refine the way we provide our services and we are always ready to look at new evidence from reviews and reports such as the Mount Vernon Report.

A group of staff are currently looking at the way we look after acutely unwell patients both in Velindre and in our partner health boards.

Is it true that many clinicians do not support the plans for a new Velindre Cancer Centre?

No, it’s not true. Our staff were engaged in developing our plans in the first place, are engaged in their further development and support what we’re doing.

Our approach also has the support of the health boards and their clinicians from across the region and was developed after engaging hundreds of clinicians, patients and partners. It’s been subject to scrutiny and independent review.

There will always be some staff with different views. That’s perfectly natural and is, in fact, a good thing. We actively encourage staff to speak up and to share different views and perspectives. It’s normal and healthy and helps us make better decisions.

We will keep listening to all our staff, partners and patients and, where appropriate, we will develop and refine the way we provide our services with regard to where acutely unwell patients are seen and cared for.

Will you commission an independent external review of the clinical model?

The way health services are delivered is always being developed and refined as new medicines, new technology and new evidence are discovered. Cancer services are no different.

The Welsh Government commissioned an independent Parliamentary Review of the Long Term Future of Health and Social Care in Wales, to ensure those services meet the needs of future generations.  The resulting Plan, “A Healthier Wales,” published October 2019, sees large general hospitals in future supporting the delivery of specialist services across networks of hospitals and centres of excellence. Our plan for a new cancer centre of excellence, on its own site, and part of the Cancer Services Network, is in line with this policy.

It also reflects the reality that there is no existing hospital site which has the space to hold eight specialist radiotherapy machines.

However, the way we provide services in the centre and alongside other health services is open to development – as it always is.

We have set up a programme of work with internal and external input to develop and refine the way we work. We will also look at how this fits with our research and development ambition and with the way we train our staff and other health care professionals.

As always, we will aim to achieve a clinical consensus which can be peer reviewed by independent professional experts along with our partners in health boards.

 

What are you planning to do?
We are submitting a joint planning application with Asda to change the road and car park layout to improve access to the Asda store and to the new Velindre Cancer Centre site.
What is different from the first planning application?
We have changed our plans for the roundabouts and roads leading to both Asda and the new Velindre Cancer Centre site. We are not changing our plans for the cancer centre or for the overall scheme.
Why have you changed your plans?
The changes will allow for a better traffic flow and easy access around the area.
Will the planning application be determined by the Council’s planning committee?
Cardiff City Council will make this decision.
When will work start?
Subject to planning permission being granted, we will start work on the bridge over the former railway cutting in the summer of 2020.

Why do you need the temporary construction roads?
We want temporary roads for the construction traffic needed to build two bridges into the northern meadows site. The first bridge will cross to the site from Asda and the second will be for emergency use only and will cross from the Hollybush estate.
Where will the temporary construction roads be?
The first starts at the existing entrance to the Whitchurch Hospital and will follow the existing road on the site. From there we will construct a short link to the northern meadows site.
The second temporary construction road is from land at Lady Cory’s Field, near the Pantmawr Road junction on Park Road.

Why do you need to extend the time for using the temporary construction road?
The extension will help us open the new Velindre Cancer Centre ten months earlier, in 2024. The sooner we open, the sooner that patients will benefit.
The extension will also save between £5 million and £11.5 million of public money.

How much longer do you want to extend use of the temporary construction road?
Until November 2024 so we can use it for the construction of the new Velindre Cancer Centre itself.

On what days and at what times will the HGV lorries be using Park Road?
Construction traffic will use Park Road outside the school run hours – between 9.15 in the morning and 3.15 in the afternoon and then between four and six in the afternoon on week days.

Construction traffic will also use Park Road on Saturdays between eight in the morning and one in the afternoon. There will be no construction traffic on Sundays.

What have you changed following the pre-planning notification period?

The main changes are the additions of:

  • A footpath, with lighting, linking the main Whitchurch Hospital entrance to the new cancer centre site.
  •  A layby to serve Health Board offices on the Whitchurch Hospital site
  • Pedestrian crossings from the car park on the Whitchurch Hospital site to the offices, chapel, bowls green, cricket and football pitches.

 

What impact will the building of the new cancer centre have on the local environment?
Sixty per cent of the northern meadows will remain undeveloped and we will take action to protect and enhance its biodiversity.

We want the new centre to lead the way in sustainable design.

We have conducted a full Environmental Impact Assessment which shows that the environmental impact would be acceptable with appropriate mitigation.

How many trees will be lost?

We are conducting a survey of the trees we will need to remove. For every tree we have to cut down, we will plant two new ones.

Will the development increase the risk of flooding?

We will do all we can to make sure that the risk of flooding is not increased by construction of the new Velindre Cancer Centre.
Specifically, since January 2019, new developments covering more than 100m2 are required to provide sustainable drainage. Surface water drainage systems must be designed and built in accordance with mandatory standards for sustainable drainage published by the Welsh Government.

Our drainage proposals for the new site will need to be approved by Cardiff City Council acting in its role as the Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) Approving Body.

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