A charity has launched an appeal to equip a flagship hospital unit in Bradford which is set to transform the care of hundreds of women with breast disease.

The unit, converted at a cost of £50,000 from a disused ward at St Luke's Hospital, will open later in the spring.

Volunteers from the Bosom Friends charity hope to turn the six-bed surgical unit into a home from home and are asking for cash donations or gifts in kind to give it a unique atmosphere.

Hundreds of women each year are expected to be treated in the ward following surgery for a variety of breast complaints including cancer, lumps and inflammation. The latest development will come on top of improvements including a new one-stop clinic and the appointment of a second breast surgeon, bringing Bradford into line with national guidelines. Patients are currently admitted to main surgery wards used by both men and women.

Pauline Pickles, chairman of Bosom Friends which has been closely involved in planning improvements with hospital chiefs, said it was hoped to spend thousands of pounds making sure women were comfortable as they came to terms with often traumatic surgery.

There would be a completely new look to the ward - even the bedding and crockery would be different to the types hospitals traditionally use. It was also hoped to provide books and music.

Other features would include a counselling room, overnight stay room for relatives, a day room and kitchenette.

"It really is a very big development, putting Bradford well ahead in looking after breast care patients which is superb," she said.

"We want it to be a home from home - it won't be like anything else in Bradford hospitals - but obviously that takes money.

"Women will be going there at rock bottom in many cases for major surgery and will get five days of help and support in really nice surroundings where they can come to terms with what has happened to them and start to prepare themselves for whatever comes next.

"We'd like support from anyone who could donate money or materials which we could use."

Cash left over would be put into a trust fund for future improvements.

Anyone who would like to help can call Penny Silson, a trustee of the Breast Care Trust Fund at the hospital, on (01274) 364022 or Pauline on (01535) 630139.

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