Varian to equip new Oxford cancer centre in 31-year PFI contract
31 January 2006
Oxford, England. Cancer patients in southern England are to benefit from
state-of-the-art radiotherapy treatments thanks to a major new oncology
centre due to open in 2008. Varian Medical Systems has been selected to
equip the new unit at Oxford Churchill Hospital in one of Europe's largest
PFI (private finance initiative) projects.
As part of an initial $13 million order booked in the company's first
quarter of fiscal year 2006, Varian will equip the new centre with six
Clinac linear accelerators and a full suite of Varian information management
and treatment planning software. All the accelerators will allow clinicians
to carry out IMRT (intensity modulated radiation therapy) to enable higher
precision treatments, while two of the machines will also be equipped with
Varian's robotic On-Board Imager device for image-guided radiation therapy
(IGRT). Oxford Churchill Hospital will be among the first centres in the UK
to offer IGRT treatments for patients in addition to IMRT.
Walter Frei, head of Varian's Oncology Systems business in Europe, said
the radiotherapy PFI contract covers 31 years where Varian has teamed with
Impregilo Spa, of Italy, to provide the radiotherapy services. "We are
delighted to be working closely with Impregilo on a long-term partnership
that will bring enormous benefits to cancer sufferers in the UK," he added.
Varian has been selected as equipment supplier in several other PFI
contracts — including at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital and the Plymouth
Oncology Centre — but the Oxford Churchill project is one of the largest of
its kind. "This will be a magnificent facility that will help to establish a
new standard of cancer care in the UK and we are proud that Varian
technology and products will be part of this effort," Frei said.
IGRT and IMRT
IGRT, which is a major breakthrough in the ability to track organ motion and
deliver treatments with higher precision, is only offered routinely at a
handful of UK hospitals to date, including Clatterbridge Centre for Oncology
and Ipswich Hospital. Varian's On-Board Imager device is a digital imaging
accessory mounted on the medical linear accelerator, the machine which
delivers the radiation treatments. It can be used to improve precision by
verifying tumour locations and monitoring tumour motions at the moment of
treatment. It will provide doctors with a clear indication of exactly how a
tumour will move during treatment due to respiration or other repeatable
Varian's IMRT technology is a ground-breaking treatment which allows
conforming of the treatment beam to the shape of the tumour, thus improving
accuracy while minimizing damage to surrounding healthy tissue. Using this
approach, clinicians can easily deliver this advanced treatment in the
conventional 10-15 minute appointment time slot required for daily cancer
As part of the PFI Managed Equipment Service arrangement, Varian will be
responsible for equipment maintenance and replacements during the lifetime
of the agreement. "It's a comprehensive long-term solution for the Trust,"
says Michael Sandhu, Varian's European Director of Public Private
Partnerships. "In a time of rapid technological change, these contracts
protect against obsolescence so that clinics can continue to offer
state-of-the-art medical care.
"Good performance, reliability and effective maintenance provision rate
extremely highly in PFIs. We have been particularly successful in these
projects because we can offer a comprehensive array of radiotherapy
equipment that addresses a broad range of clinical needs in a cost effective
In addition to the initial installation of six linear accelerators, a
full suite of Eclipse treatment planning workstations and Varian information
management software, Oxford Churchill will also receive an Acuity imaging
system with cone-beam CT capability.