Linear Accelerator at CHCH Hospital officially opened

Monday November 7, 2011

Canterbury’s newest Linear Accelerator was officially opened in Christchurch today.

The Canterbury District Health Board has installed a $3 million Elekta Synergy Linear Accelerator (Linac) machine, which is expected to lift cancer treatment capacity by around 33 percent. 

Minister of Health, Tony Ryall officially opened the Linac at a special ceremony held at Christchurch Hospital’s Oncology Department.

Bruce Matheson, Canterbury District Health Board chairman, said the installation and commissioning of a new linear accelerator requires a lot of work and planning in addition to business as usual.

“We all know that this year has been anything but usual for the people of Canterbury and staff have done an amazing job in managing the extra work during a period of great uncertainty in their personal lives as well as adapting to the changes and significant disruptions that the earthquakes have brought about,” Mr Matheson said.

Iain Ward, Clinical Director Oncology Services, said treating cancers requires a dedicated team, where the skills of a range of clinicians and other staff come together.

Minister of Health Tony Ryall said he wanted to make the trip to Christchurch especially so he could acknowledge the team personally for their tremendous effort.

“Thank you to each and every one of you for the contribution you’ve made.”

A Linac is most commonly used for external beam radiation treatments to any part/organ of the body for patients with cancer.  It delivers high-energy x-rays to the region of the patient's tumour. These x-ray treatments can be directed in such a way that they destroy the cancer cells while sparing the surrounding normal tissue.

Three new Linacs have become operational in the past 18 months, at Christchurch Hospital.

All three machines have the best treatment delivery system and imaging capability currently available.

Each machine has the capacity to treat up to 800 patients a year and can provide increased accuracy, allowing better tumour control and reduced side effects.

It is fully compatible with the other Elekta Linacs, meaning patients can be transferred between them, reducing overall waiting times.

Since its arrival at the end of April, medical physicists and radiation therapists have also been provided advanced training and the department has recruited four new radiation therapists who have started work in the last two months, with four more scheduled to start in January.​

Page last reviewed: 12 February 2014