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Alnwick’s new oncology day unit to open its doors

Wednesday, 17 September, 2014
Alnwick’s new oncology day unit to open its doors

People in the Alnwick area are from this week able to receive chemotherapy treatment in their own community.

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust’s new state-of-the-art oncology day unit at Alnwick Infirmary is due to open on Friday19 September, meaning patients will no longer need to travel out of the area for their treatment.

The purpose-built unit is based in the former Coquet Ward and the area has undergone a refurbishment of more than £200,000 to include the latest equipment and the best facilities for patients.

The new nurse-led service will initially operate one day per week, extending to two days per week later in the year. Up until now, patients requiring chemotherapy and supportive treatments faced a journey out of the area to Wansbeck or North Tyneside general hospitals.

Gill Starkey, lead cancer nurse at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: “As a trust, we are committed to providing care as close to people’s homes as possible and bringing new services to our community hospitals to benefit our patients in rural areas.

“We are delighted our oncology unit at Alnwick will open this week and provide a chemotherapy service to people in the area, ensuring our patients across Northumberland and North Tyneside have local access to treatment.

“We fully recognise that receiving chemotherapy is a difficult time for patients and their families and the new unit has been specifically designed to provide a welcoming environment and offer the utmost privacy and dignity for patients.

“Patients, their family and friends tell us they sometimes find it stressful having to travel long distances so we hope that by having this service close by it will improve patients’ experiences of receiving their care with us.”

The oncology day unit builds on the ambulatory care services already provided at Alnwick Infirmary which prevent patients having to travel to a general hospital for their treatment. These services enable patients to have certain treatments locally, such as blood transfusions and some other intravenous medications, without the need for an overnight stay in hospital or travelling further afield.

The staff who will care for patients receiving chemotherapy have undergone specialist training to provide this service in Alnwick and will continue to work at the trust’s other oncology units in order to maintain their skills and further develop the service.

Gillian Thorne, oncology nurse specialist, will be delivering the service at Alnwick, said: “After all the work that has gone into bringing this project to fruition, all the team are so excited that the unit is nearly open and we can treat patients here in Alnwick.

“We’ve seen from the positive feedback we’ve had from patients using our ambulatory care services that people really do benefit from not having to travel out of the area for treatment and we look forward to helping many more patients.”

Communities in the Alnwick area have already raised in excess of £30,000 over the last four years to help set up the unit.

The unit at Alnwick is the trust’s fifth specialist oncology unit, with the others at Berwick Infirmary and Wansbeck, Hexham and North Tyneside general hospitals.

Cancer services run by Northumbria Healthcare in Northumberland and North Tyneside are consistently rated among the best in England, with teams providing specialist care to hundreds of patients in hospital, in the community and at home every day.

For the last three years, Northumbria Healthcare has been named in the top ten best performing NHS Trusts in England when it comes to providing a top quality experience of care for cancer patients.