ADULT cancer patients can now be referred by the NHS for high energy proton beam therapy at a Newport centre that is the first to offer the treatment in the UK.

The Welsh Health Specialised Services Committee (WHSSC) has given approval for the Rutherford Cancer Centre South Wales at the city's Celtic Springs Business Park, run by Proton Partners International (PPI), to treat NHS patients.

The centre - one of a network being developed across the UK by PPI - treated its first patient with high energy proton beam therapy earlier this year.

“As a clinician who sees effects of cancer and its treatment every day, it's great to see some NHS patients will be able to benefit from more local treatment," said Professor Roger Taylor, the centre's senior clinical advisor and consultant clinical oncologist.

“Proton therapy is not a panacea for all types of cancer, however we have seen where it can be beneficial in areas such as brain tumours or cancers of the spine or head and neck. Working with the NHS means adult patients in Wales will now have an option to be treated closer to home.”

Centre manager Jamie Powell said access for NHS patients "is something we have been working towards from day one".

"Increasingly, proton therapy will support research opportunities and alliances with the life sciences sector in Wales and we look forward to welcoming our first NHS patients soon,” he said.

WHSSC managing director Dr Sian Lewis said approval to treat NHS patients was awarded “following a robust procurement process".

“Patients who require this highly specialised treatment have complex and often rare conditions, and it will be of great benefit to them if they can receive this treatment closer to home," she said.

"We care greatly about commissioning the best services for people and will be working closely with the Rutherford Centre and our other partners to deliver the highest quality care for our patients.”