PLANS to extend and refurbish the Macmillan Centre at Borders General Hospital have been approved by the board of NHS Borders.

The extended centre will create more treatment spaces to meet growing demand.

Since the Borders Macmillan Centre first opened in 2003 to provide treatments for people with cancer, patient numbers have grown each year.

And the treatments which are delivered have become more and more complex.

As well as creating more space, the £800,000 development will allow for the centre to be completely reconfigured allowing for increased flexibility.

Judith Smith, Macmillan nurse consultant and lead clinician for cancer, told the Border Telegraph: “No two patients are the same and our new treatment area will be flexible to allow patients more privacy depending on how they are feeling and the treatment they are receiving.

"Not only that but patients can be here anywhere from 45 minutes to up to eight hours so the extra treatment spaces will allow us to look at the way we schedule appointments in order to prevent unnecessary delays for patients on the day.

"With this, as well as an updated and more pleasant environment throughout the centre, we hope to improve the overall experience for our patients.”

A planning application for the extension was submitted with Scottish Borders Council last month.

And if it is successful, it is hoped that work will begin in the new year, with the centre remaining operational throughout to minimise disruption to patients and their treatment.

Current patient Tom Clapham welcomes the proposals.

He told us: "The team at the centre already does a wonderful job - I regularly witness the genuine compassion with which they treat their patients.

"Many people’s lives are touched by cancer so anything that will help the nurses with the vital work they do and will also make life a little easier for those facing the difficult journey that a cancer diagnosis brings, is well worth doing.”

The costs of the extension and reconfiguration are to be met by charitable funding with Macmillan Cancer Support pledging half the funds and the rest being met by NHS Borders’ charity, The Difference.

As well as utilising existing funds the Difference is launching a fundraising campaign.

Macmillan’s head of services in Scotland, Janice Preston said: “Macmillan is delighted to be a part of this work which will improve the care for people with cancer in the Borders.

"Macmillan wants to ensure everyone affected by cancer in the Borders receives the best care and in the most supportive environment.

"The refurbishment of the Macmillan Cancer Centre will also help us improve the much needed support offered to patients and their friends and family.

"Our significant contribution of £400,000 is thanks to the continued support of people locally who work so hard to raise funds. We simply couldn’t do it without them and we are extremely grateful.”

For more information or offering help to raise money for the cancer centre refurbishment please contact Karen Wilson on 01896 825542 or visit the website