A £25 million radiotherapy centre at Colchester General Hospital has treated its first patients.

The state-of-the art centre, which has been on the cards for a generation, will treat give 26,500 treatments to more than 1,600 adult patients a year.

The major development, linked to the main building and Gainsborough Wing, did not go over budget but is opening around 10 weeks later than planned.

It will be fully operational by the end of next month, when four £1.8 million linear accelerators will be up and running. They will replace three ageing machines at Essex County Hospital, which is due to close by next April.

Sonia Tankard, Colchester Hospitals Trust’s radiotherapy lead, said: “A new radiotherapy centre at Colchester General Hospital has been on the horizon since I joined the Trust in 1989 and I’ve been involved in planning it on at least four separate occasions.

“It’s absolutely fantastic for the people of north and mid Essex and the whole team that we’re now at long last about to start making use of this outstanding development."