AS THE WORLD is convulsed by the terrible scenes from Ukraine, we have at least had some excellent news locally, namely that the Royal Surrey has announced the official opening date for its Cancer and Surgical Innovation Centre as November of next year.

Many of you will know I have been campaigning to get this built for the past year to help us cope with the huge backlog in cancer cases following the pandemic.

Just a reminder: in the first year of the pandemic 45,000 fewer people started treatment for surgery and there were over 300,000 fewer cancer tests undertaken, something that will sadly lead to much loss of life.

Our national cancer outcomes have much improved dramatically over our lifetimes: when I was born only about half those with cancer survived a year – now it is around three quarters.

But our outcomes still lag the best in Europe which is why this is such an important area to focus on and indeed why I am currently leading a Select Committee Inquiry into what more needs to be done.

The Royal Surrey cancer teams worked incredibly hard during the pandemic to keep the show on the road.

It is already a regional cancer hub and this new centre will allow it to improve the services it offers locally including the use of some state of the art cancer surgery robots.

I secured £25 million of the £30 million needed in a meeting with Simon Stevens, the then boss of the NHS, last year.

That has allowed the Royal Surrey to commission architects, decide a site to place the centre on and commit to opening the centre next year.

The centre will have a short-stay facility, day surgery theatres, a robotic suite and training facilities.

This is truly fantastic news for us in South West Surrey – and comes on top of the recent news that Milford Hospital will host one of 100 new brand new diagnostic centres, something that will really help our ambition to diagnose cancers earlier.

We have also had a magnificent response so far to the campaign to raise the additional £5 million the hospital needs to make the centre truly state of the art.

So far over £80,000 has been raised from donations locally. We have fundraising campaigns in place in Godalming, Farnham and Haslemere and plan to publish architectural plans shortly after Easter.

Every member of my family has had cancer including my mother who we sadly lost earlier this year, so this also means a lot to me personally.

But with so much distressing news in the world at the moment, it is also heartening to see we have such a strong and committed local community.