A RADIOTHERAPY unit that will benefit people in the Vale has received a multi-million pound funding boost.

The Department of Health has approved in principle a £22.4 million loan to fund the centre at Worcestershire Royal Hospital in Worcester.

The centre will enable 95 per cent of radiotherapy to be provided in Worcestershire.

At the moment patients have to travel to Cheltenham, Wolverhampton and Birmingham for the treatment.

All that remains is for the Strategic Health Authority to approve the business case for the centre. This is scheduled to take place at a meeting on January 24 next year.

Chris Tidman, director of finance for Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, discussed progress at a board meeting at Kidderminster Hospital.

He said: “All being well, the builders should be on site in March.” The car park has already been completed as part of advanced work by the trust.

Mr Tidman also assured members of the public that the car park would be for radiotherapy patients only.

The loan was welcomed by former patient and throat cancer survivor Paul Crawford, who had to travel to Cheltenham for radiotherapy and has campaigned for care closer to home for the people of Worcestershire.

Mr Crawford, aged 71, said: “This is great news. This funding will push the building of the radiotherapy unit along nicely for the benefit of Worcestershire cancer patients. Local ‘in county’ cancer services are becoming a reality and i’m looking forward to seeing the diggers on site in March.”

Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust has worked on plans for the unit with University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust.

It is estimated the unit will save patients about one million miles of travel every year, not to mention easing the stress for patients battling cancer, and their families.

The unit is scheduled to open in 2014.