SERVICES: Plans for a £25m state-of-the-art radiotherapy unit at Colchester General Hospital have won planning permission, enabling work to get underway.

The centre will treat its first patients in 2014, replacing the one at Essex County Hospital. It will have three new linear accelerators with plans for two more as demand increases for radiotherapy.

As well as linacs, it will also have an orthovoltage unit, which will be used to administer radiotherapy to treat cancers of the skin and superficial tissues, and a brachytherapy unit, used to administer a specialist radiotherapy treatment, implanting short-lived radioisotopes into body cavities.

The centre will also have a CT scanner, which will help hospital staff to identify with precision where a cancer is located in the body so that it can be treated accurately with radiotherapy.

Other cancer services will also be moved to Colchester General Hospital, including inpatient beds.