Health Service Focus

04.02.14

‘We’re taking The Christie to our patients’

Source: National Health Executive Jan/Feb 2014

At the end of 2013, The Christie NHS Foundation Trust launched its new £700,000 mobile chemotherapy unit to take cancer care closer to patients’ homes. NHE asked chemotherapy clinical service manager Jackie Wrench how the service has been going so far.

Up to 20 cancer patients a day are being treated much closer to their homes in the greater Manchester region now that The Christie’s mobile chemo unit has hit the road.

The mobile unit, which has four treatment chairs, arrives on the same day of the week at each of five locations (in Rochdale, Stretford, Hyde, Chadderton, and Royal Bolton Hospital), making it a consistent service for patients with standard weekly infusions.

Chemotherapy clinical service manager at The Christie, Jackie Wrench, told NHE: “Our mobile unit has been on the road for over three months now.

“The number of people using the unit on a day-to-day basis is starting to grow steadily as confidence grows that the care and treatment they receive is exactly the same as at our main Christie hospital site. It’s our aim to take The Christie to our patients rather than them having to come to us and this unit spares them the time, cost and energy of travelling to our main site.

“We’ve had fantastic feedback from patients using the service.  We are thrilled it’s making such a difference to their day-to-day lives.”

The unit was funded entirely by The Christie Charity, with listeners of BBC Radio Manchester helping to fundraise for the unit after the station chose The Christie to be its charity of the year for 2013. 

Chief executive at The Christie, Caroline Shaw, said that as chemotherapy treatment can be so “challenging and draining – physically, emotionally and socially”, the unit is easing the burden, cost and time of travelling to the hospital’s main Withington site.

Elaine Thorneycroft, 69, from Rochdale, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010, now needs chemotherapy every three weeks to keep her disease under control. When the mobile unit was launched in October, she said: “[It] will be just five minutes from my house – I can’t describe how much easier that will be to just pop down the road for my treatment.  It won’t feel as though I’m going to hospital – it’ll be just an hour out of my day, that’s it.  It will give me my day back.”

Wrench, who helped lead the fundraising for the unit, said that time was a particularly important aspect. “In all my years as a nurse, time is the thing – the one thing – that patients are often short of. By this, I mean the time cancer can take away from people’s daily lives That can be time spent away from family and friends. Time missed from work. Time spent waiting – for public transport and treatment. Time spent actually having chemotherapy...“Giving patients time to carry on with their normal routine – the things they would have done before their diagnoses – can mean so much during treatment.”

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at opinion@nationalhealthexecutive.com

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