PATIENTS with cancer can now make use of a unique new community facility.

The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre, one of the UK’s largest networked cancer centres, has launched a state-of-the-art mobile chemotherapy unit in Chester.

The six-month pilot scheme sees the unit based outside Tesco at Sealand Industrial Estate three days a week and will treat about 25 people each day, meaning there will be a significant increase in patients accessing treatment closer to home.

The mobile unit holds six chemotherapy treatment bays, as well as a reception and pharmacy area where nurses can prepare chemotherapy for patients.

Patients will be referred to the service through their current consultant, depending on the treatment they need.

Joanne Upton, chemotherapy nurse at Clatterbridge and project manager of the mobile unit, said: “It isn’t possible for some patients to travel to our main site on the Wirral; even their nearest clinic can be a struggle for some people.

“We’re constantly working on innovative methods to make the treatment process easier for our patients and the mobile chemotherapy unit is a huge step in the right direction.”

To mark the launch, two members of Chester-based soap Hollyoaks were present to cut the ribbon and officially open the facility.

Holly Weston, who plays Ash Kane in the soap, said: “Anything that makes it easier for patients and their carers has to be welcome.”

Laurie Duncan, who plays Callum Kane in the long-running Channel 4 show, added: “This will take a lot off their mind. If I was ever in need of treatment this would feel comfortable and the staff are very nice.”

Ward manager Carol Gregson said: “This unit is ideal for the nurses to work in and ideal for relatives and carers as they can do their weekly shop instead of waiting for two or three hours.

“We will be offering chemotherapy and supportive treatments, some of which will be two hours long. Those treatments will be on three days of the week while the other two will be for blood transfusions.”

The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre delivers nearly 39,000 treatments to patients each year from its Wirral-based site and clinics across Merseyside and Cheshire.

Chester is the first to pilot the scheme and will be the home of the chemotherapy unit for six months, with a view to potentially rolling it out to other locations across the region.