Page last updated at 10:39 GMT, Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Cancer support centre is extended

Derriford Hospital
Derriford considers the Mustard Tree a key part of cancer services

A support centre for cancer patients is being extended at the South West's biggest hospital.

The Mustard Tree Macmillan Centre at Derriford Hospital currently receives about 11,500 visits a year.

It offers patients and carers support and counselling, benefits advice and access to complementary therapies.

The 900,000 project, funded by Macmillan Cancer Support with the help of Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust, is expected to be completed by October.

Macmillan fundraising manager Alex Folkes said the Mustard Tree was a flagship centre for the charity.

It is seen as a sanctuary and haven by patients
Paul Roberts, Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust

"The number of people affected by cancer in the Plymouth area is increasing and our aim is to reach every one of them by the end of 2010," he said.

The extension will give the centre an extra 152 square metres of space to cope with the increasing rise in visitors.

Paul Roberts, the hospital trust's chief executive, said the centre was a key part of its cancer services.

"The Mustard Tree Centre is a very special place and it is seen as a sanctuary and haven by patients," he said.

The drop-in centre is run by qualified healthcare staff and trained volunteers, many of whom have personal experience of cancer.

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