A REVOLUTIONARY radiation shielding system has arrived at Mount Vernon Cancer Centre as part of a £20million redevelopment of facilities at the famous site.

The system will help towards the achievement of national cancer plan targets by enabling cancer centres to respond to changing patient volumes in days, instead of months or years.

The first of Mount Vernon's five new radiotherapy treatment rooms will be installed this week over just five days.

Cathy Williams, general manager, cancer services, East and North Hertfordshire Trust, said: "This fantastic new facility will provide Mount Vernon with the very latest radiotherapy technology, housed in purpose-built facilities. Not only will the equipment be much more reliable, thus reducing delays caused by breakdowns and servicing, it will also allow our staff to carry out ever more sophisticated procedures on patients with serious, and sometimes complex, diseases."

She added: "Plans for the new facilities look fantastic, which is in no small part due to the cutting-edge expertise provided through RAD Technology.

"Using the latest specialist building technology in a first for the NHS the new service will be up and running so much more quickly than could ever have been the case using traditional construction methods.

She added: "If everything goes to plan, we hope that the new facility will be up and running officially for patients from September 2006."

In July last year, against huge public opposition, approval was given by the then Secretary of State for Health, John Reid, for the development of a new £550 million major acute hospital that will be built in Hatfield by 2012/13.

The plans meant that cancer services from Mount Vernon would be transferred to Hatfield. At the moment, Mount Vernon provides cancer care to more than two million patients across south Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, south Buckinghamshire, East Berkshire and North West London.