THE treatment could be world class and the staff professional and compassionate.

But Dr Philip Murray, whose job for decades was to give chemotherapy and radiotherapy to hundreds of patients, will tell you the environment has to be right too.

Having spent 25 years as a consultant oncologist in Colchester, it’s no wonder Dr Murray is passionate about getting a state-of-the-art cancer centre built.

The campaign, backed by the Gazette, has been running for two years and its aim is allow all cancer services - including clinical treatment and support services - to be brought together in one location.

The original cost was £4.5million but that has now been scaled back to £3.25million, with the centre retaining all the elements of the original scheme but will it only built over one floor instead of two.

Dr Murray, 63, was involved in setting up the campaign from the start and before that, the radiotherapy centre.

The £24million radiotherapy centre on the site of Colchester General Hospital opened in 2014 and the vision is for the cancer centre to compliment it.

He said: “When we opened the new radiotherapy centre, the feedback from the patients since then has been amazing and the patients and their families find it really a soothing environment and staff love it as well

“In terms of recruitment and retention that’s really helpful.

“The requirement [for chemotherapy] is increasing but it is not just a numbers thing, it is the environment.

“If we have got everything on one site it is better for the patient and I think there is that feeling of identity too – that you are being treated in one place.”

More than £1 million has already been raised for the cancer centre but very recently a Good Samaritan has offered to donate £1 million towards it - as long as the rest of the money - £1.25 million - is reached by next February.

And fundraising is something Dr Murray is particularly au fait with, having thrown his heart into planning and getting cash for the radiotherapy centre.

Dr Murray’s exploits for that centre included a parachute jump, two half marathons, a cycle ride and taking part in Santa Fun Runs.

With support of family and friends, he raised more than £10,000.

While keeping his legs a little more rested this time around, Dr Murray is still passionately involved in the cancer campaign committee.

He said the public perception of the cancer centre was hopefully more supportive than when the campaign launched in 2014.

“It was at the time when the trust was going through a lot of bad publicity so we felt that we had really got off to a bad start.

“A lot of potential major donors might not be as enticed but that’s all hopefully behind us now, particularly with the recent major donor.

“We have revised the costs of the scheme because we think we were a bit over ambitious but with these major donations we are well over £2million."

Dr Murray, who predominately treated breast cancer patients before his recent retirement, said demand for treatment was also increasing.

“I think what is happening is treatments are becoming more complex but we have increasing numbers to counter that.

“When I arrived in Colchester there were three consultants shared between Colchester and Chelmsford, now there are 14 between the two.

“When I arrived in Colchester there were two chemotherapy nurses, now there is a team of over 20.

“The population has increased, secondly people are getting older and more individual types of cancers get treatment now.

“When I started there was no individual treatment for lung cancer. The whole area of chemotherapy has developed and is developing with treatments. It is really changing the pattern of the outcome for these patients.”

Under the revised drawings, space near Gainsborough wing at Colchester General Hospital will be used to create the cancer centre for support services and alternative treatments.

The new chemotherapy and haematology department will be built on top of the radiotherapy centre.

It will feature 37 treatment suits which will be designed to offer more privacy to each patient.

That is 12 more units than is currently offered in the Mary Barron suite.

But in this suite the lack of space between patients means that it is difficult to have sensitive discussions and patients receiving chemotherapy may spend up to six or seven hours in a treatment chair and want a loved one with them.

At the moment there is no space to make visitors comfortable.

And while the campaign still has a long way to go, Dr Murray is optimistic it is achievable.

He added: “We feel we are getting there with donations, we have had lots of very enthusiastic support which has been great.”

Cancer patients needing chemotherapy or haematology are treated in the demountable unit on the other side of the hospital, quarter of a mile away,

  • For more information on how you can support the campaign, visit
  • Visit the Gazette's dedicated Cancer Centre Campaign page at

Are you fundraising for the cancer centre campaign? Tell us your story by calling 01206 508414 or email