How providing more treatments outside of hospital can help patients live fuller lives

Following the launch of our new mobile healthcare unit in Surrey, our head of nursing, Sarah Rickels says that patient choice can make a real difference to outcomes.

If you’ve ever experienced what it’s like to require regular treatment at hospital, you’ll know that it can be quite stressful. Dealing with a diagnosis is difficult enough for patients and their loved ones, without adding in the hassle and anxiety that visiting hospital can bring.

From a patient perspective, having more choice about where they receive their treatment can give them a greater sense of feeling in control. Community-based treatment centres, that allow people to access care outside of hospital, in a more convenient location, can help to reduce some of that stress. It can also have a positive impact on mood because it makes it easier for patients to continue with their normal lives.

Just because you’re ill, you don’t stop being a parent, a partner, or having other responsibilities. Having a treatment option that enables you to feel as normal as possible, to some people, can be a real blessing. It’s a well-studied phenomenon that emotional well-being impacts long-term recovery and survival rates of patients with a physical illness. That’s why offering more choice, at a time when life might feel restricted, is so important.

As capacity challenges within the NHS increase, taking people out of hospital should be seen as a priority for Trusts. They need to find ways to ease the pressure on their clinics and medical units, without compromising quality or safety. The ideal solution is for suitable patients to be given the opportunity to choose where they receive their treatment. By making more community-based clinics available, Trusts can free up time and space in their hospitals, allowing them to focus on more urgent care needs.

In 2017, we launched our LloydsPharmacy Healthcare Centre concept to address this very need. We understand that patients want more choice and less stress when undergoing treatment. Equally, the NHS is looking for ways that it can adapt to meet the country’s growing and changing healthcare needs. That’s where our healthcare centres come in.

We work with Trusts to design and develop services that we can deliver on their behalf, in community-based clinics, outside of hospital. This helps to tackle capacity challenges in hospital, but also drives efficiencies and improves the patient experience.

For example, we can deliver cancer treatments in our healthcare centres through our specially trained oncology nurses. Over 100,000 people every year require some form of chemotherapy and many of them will be suitable for out of hospital care. This means that they could avoid the often-stressful trips to their usual acute hospital, instead going to an easy-to-access site, with free parking, zero waiting time and state of the art facilities.

The joy of working alongside other healthcare professionals within the NHS is that everyone has the same goal – to achieve better outcomes for patients. With every service we design, we put the patient first and work backwards from there.

These kinds of partnerships hold the key to the future of healthcare in the UK and ultimately the sustainability of our NHS. We recently opened our fourth LloydsPharmacy Healthcare Centre, in collaboration with Royal Surrey NHS Trust – and I’m excited to see the difference it will make to patients and the hospital team.