A NEW centre for breast cancer services is now fully open at Southmead Hospital.

The Bristol Breast Care Centre, in the refurbished Beaufort House, brings together screening and symptomatic services for referred patients in to the same building.

The centre has been designed specifically to meet the needs of women and men facing a potential breast cancer diagnosis.

There are separate waiting areas for patients attending for screening and those who have been referred with symptoms of breast cancer.

Doors have been installed leading from all breast care nurses’ offices to a garden area where patients can go for contemplation and several quiet rooms are now in the centre.

There is also a dedicated room where patients can speak to research nurses about potential clinical trials that might be suitable for them.

Both patients and members of staff were involved in the design of the centre as well as representatives from charities including, BUST, Bosom Buddies and Young Women 4 Young Women.

The work was supported with funding from organisations including the Arts Council, Garfield Weston and John James Bristol Foundation along with other organisations and local fundraisers.

Art and interior design have been incorporated into the building to make it a more calming environment for patients.

Avon Breast Screening is now based at the Bristol Breast Care Centre and patients who are recalled following routine screening will now be seen at the centre.

Routine screening for women in the local area will be carried out at the centre but there will also continue to be screening at Tower Hill in the city centre and in the through use of screening vans.

55,000 women a year are screened in the area and about 4,000 a year are now likely to be seen at Bristol Breast Care Centre for further investigations.

A minority of those women will go on to be diagnosed with breast cancer. In those cases the screening team will be able to liaise directly with their colleagues to arrange a patient’s next appointment.

The team will see about 20,000 patients a year through the symptomatic service, with about half being new referrals from their GP and the rest being seen for follow-up appointments.

Clinical lead for symptomatic breast care services, Dr Mike Shere, said: “We are now all together with the screening service in one fantastic building.

“Patients are telling us that they like the way that the design with lots of natural light relaxes them and we are already seeing the benefits of the larger team working together with expertise and equipment.”

Laura Goodchild, a patient and part of the centre’s interior design team, said: “Having this centre is really important, everything is all fit for purpose and the needs of patients were always kept in mind when the centre was being designed.

“Having private areas for patients to go and doors out from consultation rooms so that upset patients do not have to walk through the waiting rooms was something that was important.”

Avon Breast Screening clinical director Alexandra Valencia said: “This is a purpose-built unit that has been designed with patients at the heart of it and all the expertise is under one roof to provide the best clinical care with state of the art equipment.

“It’s a calm, relaxed atmosphere and being together under one roof brings all the professional teams together to improve patient pathways.”

The new Bristol Breast Care Centre has been created with the support of a £500,000 fundraising appeal.

The Bristol Breast Care Centre Appeal is continuing to raise the final funds to complete some of the landscaping and art works along with multi-disciplinary rooms for staff and a children’s play area.

A donor wall recognises the contributions that have already been made and supporters can continue to buy engraved blossoms for the tree as part of the ongoing fundraising appeal.

To support the Bristol Breast Care Centre Appeal visit http://nbt.nhs.uk/supporting-southmead-hospital/our-projects/a-z-projects/bristol-breast-care-centre-appeal or www.justgiving.com/breastcarecentreappeal or call 0117 323 6462.

Text donations can also be made by sending the message BBCC14 followed by the amount to 70070.