A new dedicated unit for breast cancer sufferers was opened at the QEII Hospital on Thursday by singer-turned-celebrity gardener Kim Wilde. The Vicki Adkins Breast Unit, named after its chief fundraiser, was opened alongside the hospital's new MRI scanner unit. Kim cut the ribbon with Vicki, who raised nearly Â£1million for the Â£2.4million breast unit through the Hertfordshire Breast Appeal. The former pop singer, who lives in Codicote, is a patron of the appeal and helped design the garden at the breast unit, which was funded by money raised by the appeal and by the NHS. It has some of the most up-to-date equipment in the country for detecting breast cancer and provides a relaxing and comforting atmosphere for patients. Speaking at Thursday's ceremony, Vicki, who started the appeal after surviving cancer herself, said: "At last my dream for the future men and women of Hertfordshire has come true. I would like to thank everyone who has been involved in the planning of this unit in the NHS. The breast care team the trust has in the new unit will provide a service that will be the envy of many people in the country." "I would like to thank, once again, everyone who has helped fundraise with me especially Sue Sexton and all my trustees, this community for their donations and trusting me to do the job I said I would do and finally Kim Wilde and Val Berry who gave up their time to design a quiet garden for patients to enjoy." "I would like to thank my husband, Tony, for his support and help over the eight years that I have been fundraising for the breast unit, as well as all the local media in east and north Hertfordshire who have helped to publicise the work of the appeal fund." The thinking behind the dedicated unit is that patients can see all the staff related to their disease under one roof to prevent them having to make unnecessary visits. The trust says the new digital mammography, ultrasound and biopsy equipment will improve the detection of breast diseases and speed of diagnosis. Richard Beazley, chairman of the East and North Herts Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the QEII, said the new unit was a "first class facility" of which everyone involved could be proud. He said: "Over the last eight years, Vicki and her dedicated fundraisers - including staff from our own trust, such as breast surgeon Peter Crane - have campaigned to improve the experience of patients and their families so that they not only have access to excellent healthcare in a timely fashion, using the best in modern technology, but also are treated in comfortable and modern surroundings."
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