Questions and answers on the building of Maggie's Barts

We are planning to build a new Maggie's Centre at St Bartholomew's hospital in London which will provide practical, emotional and social support for people with cancer and their families and friends. We have outlined some key questions and answers about our plans for the new Centre.

1. Why do Maggie's want to open a new Centre at Barts?

Barts Health NHS Trust believes a Maggie’s Centre will provide a real benefit to patients and families from a wide area within North East London. There are 19 hospitals across the London cancer North and East network, covering seven boroughs, all of which refer patients to Barts. With 5,500 new cancer diagnoses a year at Barts there is no doubt the need is there so we are anxious to have this new Centre open as soon as possible.

2. Why have you chosen this particular part of the Barts’ site?

The Trust chose the site for Maggie’s that would make the Centre most effective, close to the Oncology ward and with easy access to the main hospital entrance.

3. What do your plans mean for the existing building on the site?

Our plans involve the demolition of a 1960s extension to the North Wing and the erection of a three-storey extension building for use as a cancer care facility with ancillary roof terrace and external landscaping. The demolition of this building fits in with Barts’ plans for developing this area of the hospital site.

4. Will Maggie's Barts have a detrimental impact on the Great Hall?

No. English Heritage point to the improvements that our building will make which include the restoration of key architectural features such as the period quoins.

The new Maggie’s Centre will not put the Great Hall at risk and we would not want to go ahead if that was the case. We fully appreciate that the Great Hall is an important piece of architecture with historical importance.

Barts Health NHS Trust believes it is possible to combine the existing plans for a Maggie’s Centre with the renovation of the Great Hall – without the need for an extension or an alternative site.

The trust has commissioned one of the country’s leading conservation architects, Donald Insall Associates, to develop a scheme that will secure the Great Hall’s future and bring access and welfare facilities up to modern standards in the North Wing.

5. Is there a suitable alternative location that you could build on?

No. An alternative location was proposed by the Friends of The Great Hall and Archive but Barts Health NHS Trust have gone on record to say that it is unsuitable and would have a significant adverse impact on patient care and the safe operation of the hospital.

The alternative site is not an option as it presents a number of difficulties:

  • It would obstruct light to an adjacent Trust building
  • It would be situated directly above major infrastructure services including electricity, gas and water mains serving the main hospital
  • It has the potential for the disturbance of significant archaeological deposits
  • It does not provide sufficient/appropriate space for the proposed Maggie’s Centre and would be sandwiched in to a corner – we anticipate the Centre will receive over 20,000 visits per year

6. Will cancer treatment move away from Barts in the future?

Barts Health NHS Trust remains committed to providing cancer treatment to patients in London. It has issued a statement on the movement of cancer units:

“NHS England’s proposals would mean a minimal number of specialist cancer operations are not performed at the Trust - around 350, less than one per cent of the 28,000 episodes of cancer care carried out annually at Barts Health NHS Trust.

Barts Health is strongly committed to improving the survival and outcomes of cancer patients in London, which are currently worse than in the rest of the country. Two-thirds of early deaths in London result from cancer and heart disease.”

7. Why did you pick Steven Holl as the architect?

Steven Holl has significant experience of designing buildings that can live alongside other buildings, always ensuring the new building complements those around it.

Building design is hugely important to us at Maggie’s as there is evidence that an uplifting environment can reduce stress and anxiety. Steven Holl has designed the Centre to this brief and with these principles at its core.

8. What will happen to the Great Hall now plans are going ahead?

The Barts Health NHS Trust is planning the renovation of the Great Hall and have commissioned one of the country’s leading conservation architects, Donald Insall Associates, to develop a scheme that will secure its future and bring access and welfare facilities up to modern standards in the North Wing.

9. Now planning has been approved, when will the Centre open?

We estimate the build will take a year to complete and we hope to start construction as soon as possible with the aim to open our Centre before the end of 2015. We anticipate the Centre will receive over 20,000 visits per year once opened.