January 8th 2019 marks one year since the expanded Centre for Clinical Haematology (CCH) at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham was launched. Building on its growing reputation as an international centre of excellence for the treatment of blood cancer, the expanded centre has already had a dramatic impact on the treatment of haematological malignancies regionally and nationally. As a consequence, the centre represents an outstanding example of Birmingham’s growing Life Sciences sector and its contribution to the local economy.

The £3.4m expansion, which has doubled the centre’s capacity, was funded by the Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP), Cure Leukaemia and University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHB). It is anticipated to create more than 70 new jobs in the Life Sciences sector over and above the 150 created by the centre in the last decade. The centre was officially opened by HRH The Earl of Wessex in June 2018.

HRH The Earl of Essex officially opening the Centre ​in June

In its first 12 months the new centre:

Now houses two pioneering blood cancer trials acceleration networks which were flagged in HM Government’s recent Life Sciences Industrial Strategy as exemplars of best practice.

Led the development of four new clinical trials of novel drug and transplant therapies in blood cancer.

Provided access to more than £10m in free drugs for clinical trial patients.

Attracted £6m investment from the global pharmaceutical sector.

Created 25 new jobs in the Life Sciences sector.

Increased the Queen Elizabeth Hospital’s ability to deliver routine care for blood cancer patients and permitted stem cell transplants to be delivered as an outpatient thereby creating vital new NHS capacity.

Unified clinical facilities for blood cancer under one roof to enhance the patient experience and provided capacity to look at changing some inpatient care to an outpatient setting.
These improvements have had a significant impact on both the care provided and accelerated the growth of the region’s Life Sciences strategy, a key reason behind the GBSLEP’s investment.

In the last 12 months the improved centre has:

  • Treated 9612 patients
  • Opened 10 new clinical trials
  • Increased patient treatments from 10,000 to 19,000
  • Dramatically reduced patient waiting times- chemotherapy waiting times have reduced from 3 hours to 30 minutes

Staff and patients on the expanded CCH’s first day open in 2018

Clinical service lead for Haematology at the CCH, Dr Fiona Clark said:

“The expanded centre has been transformational already but we see this as just the start. We have seen the benefits of having clinicians, research nurses, therapy nurses and research teams all under one roof and this has been the catalyst for a vastly improved patient pathway and experience.

“The increased capacity will allow further innovation and improvement in the care we can provide and we have recently been accredited to deliver groundbreaking CAR T-Cell immunotherapy therapy to patients, in part because of the excellent facilities and apheresis department housed in the CCH.

“All of this progress is possible thanks to the expanded CCH thanks to funding from the GBSLEP and Cure Leukaemia and we are incredibly grateful to everyone who made this possible. Birmingham and the West Midlands should be very proud to have this globally significant centre of excellence in blood cancer on its doorstep.”

Lizzie Dean receiving treatment in the CCH

30-year-old acute myeloid leukaemia patient Lizzie Dean is currently in remission after she benefited from a clinical trial for relapsed post-transplant AML patients called VIOLA. VIOLA was developed at the CCH and will be published in the internationally leading Journal of Clinical Oncology. Lizzie received this treatment at the CCH and has experienced the centre before and after expansion. She said:

“I know that I would not have enjoyed Christmas this year with my family if not for the VIOLA clinical trial I was able to access thanks to Cure Leukaemia and the CCH and I am eternally grateful to have had that opportunity.

I was treated at the centre before and after the expansion and the improvement has been huge for patients. We can now have many of our consultations and treatments under the same roof and it makes life so much easier.”

Another patient who benefitted from a clinical trial delivered at the CCH sent this message in a Christmas card to the research team highlighting the impact the work of this centre has on the lives of people fighting blood cancer:

“Thank you for everything in 2018, I’m seeing another Christmas with my family because of you!”

Cure Leukaemia CEO James McLaughlin said:

“It is fantastic to see the progress that has already been made since the CCH reopened and everyone associated with the charity is very proud to have played a major role in making this possible.

It is vital that we continue to support the clinical teams that operate within the CCH and we are constantly striving to find new ways to fund the growth and innovation that is possible as a result of the centre.”

Tim Pile, Chair of the Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP), said:

“The expansion of the Centre for Clinical Haematology is exactly the type of project the LEP wants to support. Not only will it provide substantial patient benefit, but it will create new jobs in the economy and drive future economic growth.

This will benefit our citizens, our life sciences businesses and improve the quality of life and health outcomes for people across Greater Birmingham and Solihull.”