Fire at the Royal Marsden

3 Jan 2008
Yesterday’s fire saw a large proportion of the hospital’s five operating theatres and two wards badly affected, compromising its ability to perform. All patients were safely transferred, including two being operated on, while 125 fire fighters put out the blaze.

Here, we give you some background on one of the foremost cancer hospitals in the world:

Facts and Figures

Around 40,000 patients come through its doors annually, while hundreds of researchers work on drugs and treatments which will save patients in future years.

The first hospital in the world to be dedicated to cancer - founded in 1851 by Dr William Marsden who had watched his own wife die from the disease, it moved to its current site in 1862.

It is the UK’s only designated Biomedical Research Centre for Cancer, with an annual grant of £10 million, and remains one of only six ‘centres of excellence’ for cancer in the UK named in 2000.

Healthcare Commission Rating

The Marsden Foundation Trust has achieved very high ratings in the UK Healthcare Commission’s Annual Health Check over the last few years.

Some scientific advances from the Marsden and its academic partner the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) include the first discovery of the carcinogenic chemicals in tobacco smoke, the first chemotherapy drugs, and later innovative combinations including drugs giving a 96% cure rate for testicular cancer.

Within the past year alone, researchers have worked on drug treatments for breast and prostate cancer, and advances in MRI scanning to help diagnose the disease.

Chief Executive

Speaking to the BBC, Jonathan Kipling, chief executive of the ICR, said: "It's a tragedy, as anything more than short-term disruption to the delivery of cancer treatments will have obvious consequences for their patients.”

But he added that “for most cancer treatments the timing is not absolutely critical. There are very few situations where a gap of a few days, or even a week is going to make a huge difference.”

"The longer term problem comes if the damage to the roof means that none of the wards and rooms underneath can be used. We can only hope that the damage is not extensive."