A NEW specialist drugs unit worth more than £3 million is to open at Colchester Hospital.

The drugs manufacturing facility will enable patients to continue to benefit from tailor-made medication, including chemotherapy drugs for cancer.

Work on the aseptic unit, which will be a two-storey extension to the existing pharmacy building, is due to start in April and will open next year.

It will provide additional space and improve the flow of the drug manufacturing process to meet increasing demand for aseptic services.

Some drugs which have a short useable life or are designed for specific patients have to be prepared on-site in a clinically sterile environment which is where an aseptic suite comes in. This includes many of the chemotherapy drugs used to treat cancer patients.

Stephen Pullen, deputy pharmacy production manager at Colchester Hospital, said: “This is an exciting time for the pharmacy department at East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust. “An up-to-date aseptic unit is essential to build in resilience so we can continue to provide aseptically prepared products for the trust.

“The unit will house specialist equipment with a dedicated, skilled team, offering the most responsive, flexible and effective service to provide safe and high quality injectable medicine to meet our patients’ needs.

“Products manufactured within the aseptic unit reduce the need for product reconstitution or dispensing on hospital wards, therefore reducing pressure on nursing time and increasing staff and patient safety.”

The specially designed building will mean aseptically prepared products, for cancer chemotherapy treatment in particular, can be prepared at the Turner Road site, as well as a range of general intravenous preparations, radioactive injections and blood labelling for use in nuclear medicine.

Barbara Buckley, chief medical officer at the trust, said: “A state-of-the-art manufacturing pharmacy unit on site gives us complete flexibility to offer tailor made drugs for individual patients.

“It’s efficient and effective, and improving our facilities in this way means we will be able to cope with rising numbers of patients.”