Work to start on internationally renowned blood cancer centre

L-R: James McLaughlin, of Cure Leukaemia, and Simon Wills, of PHD Architects.

The £3.2 million expansion of a world-class haematology centre of excellence, which is leading the global fight against all forms of blood cancer, is set to get underway in Birmingham next month (May).

Cure Leukaemia has made a commitment to raising an additional £1 million in 2017 to ensure the expanded Centre for Clinical Haematology (CCH) at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital – part of University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust – is fully funded.

The project, which has been driven by Cure Leukaemia co-founder Professor Charlie Craddock CBE, is being delivered by Birmingham-based Pinnegar Hayward Design (PHD) Architects. Work will start on site on May 22 and the centre is due to re-open to treat patients in November.

With Cure Leukaemia’s support Birmingham is leading the way, internationally, in the fight against blood cancer. World-class clinicians and scientists based at the CCH and the University of Birmingham are driving forward groundbreaking new therapies and saving lives in the process.

Since the CCH was opened in 2006 by patrons Geoff Thomas and Ashley Giles MBE patients have been able to access a portfolio of over 60 groundbreaking clinical trials that were not available through standard care. By delivering these often world first clinical trials to patients who have exhausted standard treatments these trials have not only save lives, but also contributed to the global understanding and treatment of blood cancer.

The success of this highly effective clinical trials programme has resulted in the Centre running at maximum capacity. The expansion of the CCH, however, will double its footprint allowing the continued growth of this world-class programme.

Simon Wills, lead architect at PHD Architects who has worked within the health sector for 20 years, said: “The Centre for Clinical Haematology is a very special place that has touched the lives of many people since it opened. It is leading the fight against blood cancers and it is something that Birmingham people should be very proud of.

“In designing the expanded Centre we have tried to create a place that is comfortable, and less clinical than a typical hospital, for patients undergoing treatments. Many of the patients have weakened immune systems and we have therefore had to make sure that maintaining a sterile environment is a high priority.

“It is very exciting to see work about to start on site. It is going to be a wonderful addition to the hospital and will help Professor Charlie Craddock and his team deliver results that could have a positive impact, globally, on thousands of blood cancer patients and their families.”

Cure Leukaemia officially launched its £1m Centre Appeal in January at the Birmingham office of charity partner KPMG. It was attended by West Bromwich Albion goalkeeper Ben Foster, cricketer Jonathan Trott, X-Factor star Sam Bailey former Villa and Blues manager Alex McLeish and England Under-21 manager Aidy Boothroyd alongside prominent political and business figures from the Midlands.

Professor Craddock CBE, who helped save the lives of former footballers Geoff Thomas and Stiliyan Petrov when they were diagnosed with blood cancer, said: “Once established, the Centre’s capacity for research nurse positions, clinical trials and patients treated will be doubled. Over 100 jobs will be created; further enhancing Birmingham’s reputation for clinical excellence in the life science sector and patient experience will be transformed by amalgamating all haematology and blood cancer services into a single space, from out patient services to clinical trials.

“These are just some of the benefits that the Centre’s development will enable. Not only will the Centre immediately increase the number of lives saved but also hasten global progress towards establishing effective treatments for all blood cancers within our lifetime.“

Blood cancer patient and architect Igor Kolodotschko, who is treated by Professor Charlie Craddock at the Centre, said: “Without the Centre for Clinical Haematology, Cure Leukaemia and Professor Charlie Craddock I probably would not be here now. I have had two FMC MUD stem cell transplants to treat my Angioimmunoblastic T-Cell Lymphoma the second of which has put the cancer in remission. The clinics I attended at the Centre were always so busy and you could tell there were just too many patients for the staff to cope with and not enough space to comfortably house them. I am sure this vital and transformational expansion of the Centre will ensure these pressures are placed firmly in the past and more and more patients are able to access the life-saving treatments I was lucky enough to benefit from.”

Cure Leukaemia chief executive James McLaughlin said: “We have worked with Simon and the staff at PHD to create conceptual drawings of the project to really help bring it to life. PHD will also be instrumental in assisting a possible exciting fundraising idea within the expansion itself, one we will hopefully announce in the coming weeks and months. There are a host of opportunities for businesses and individuals to get involved and help our £1m Appeal and I’d encourage anyone who would like to be a part of this transformational project to get in touch with Cure Leukaemia for more information.”

Councillor John Clancy, leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “I’m happy to lend my name to the fund-raising efforts to make sure a much-needed expansion of the Centre for Clinical Haematology can go ahead. Centres of excellence like this are in the very front line of Birmingham’s ambition to become a world-leader in the fast-growing life sciences sector.”