A SPECIALIST facility offering a high-tech form of cancer treatment to patients in Northumberland has been officially opened by the Duke of Gloucester.

The £35m Rutherford Cancer Centre North East , based in Bedlington, offers chemotherapy, immunotherapy, radiotherapy and high energy proton beam therapy to private paying, insured and NHS patients.

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, which runs hospitals in Tynedale, sends chemotherapy patients to the centre.

Speaking as he unveiled an opening plaque at the centre on Wednesday, the Queen’s cousin said: “It gives me great pleasure to come here and have this very magnificent task of declaring your new Rutherford Cancer Centre officially open.

“Cancer cure rates are extremely poor considering that we lead the world in cancer research. There are lots of clever people who are learning more and more about cancer and how to cure it. It can only be through applying these principles with the greatest efficiency that we can reverse the statistics.”

Mike Moran, chief executive officer of Rutherford Health, showed the Duke of Gloucester and the Duchess of Northumberland around the centre.

“There’s a high incidence of cancer around the North East and right around the country,” he said.

“It means patients won’t have to travel a long distance to receive their proton beam therapy treatment. We’re treating people closer to home and that’s an important part of their recovery.”

Sir Jim Mackey, chief executive officer of Northumbria Healthcare, said: “The health and care system within Northumberland is proven to be one of the best in England, something we are all very proud of. Adding now the additional services from the Rutherford Cancer Centre ensures patients continue to get access to the latest and most advanced treatments for cancer.”

The Rutherford Cancer Centre in Wales introduced proton beam therapy to the UK last year.