An innovative partnership between Royal Surrey and LloydsPharmacy means that cancer patients can now choose to have their treatment administered without having to visit hospital. The new mobile healthcare unit was officially opened in February 2020 at a special event attended by Dame Judi Dench.
The service was developed and designed by dedicated teams from Royal Surrey and LloydsPharmacy. It is part of the LloydsPharmacy Healthcare Centre concept which launched in 2017 and aims to help NHS Trusts to provide more treatments outside of an acute hospital setting.
Alison Ansell, Healthcare Development Manager, from LloydsPharmacy said: “We understand that going through treatment can be a stressful time for patients, so providing alternative options where they have that treatment can help them feel more in control. Whether it’s in hospital or in a mobile unit, people should be able to choose to receive their care in an environment they feel most comfortable.
“We are incredibly proud to be working with Royal Surrey to provide this vital treatment for their patients and we hope that by working together we can release capacity for the hospital and most importantly, improve the patient experience.”
Patients will only be suitable to use the mobile unit once they have safely undergone two treatments at Royal Surrey, which will ensure their consultant can address any side effects that may occur. After that the patient can opt to get their future treatments provided in the more convenient mobile unit.
The treatments, which include traditional chemotherapy and immunotherapy, will be administered by nurses from LloydsPharmacy Clinical Homecare. The service is initially made up of five courses of treatment, lasting no longer than three hours each time.
The purpose-built mobile unit, which is supplied by cancer charity Tenovus, features seven chemotherapy chairs, as well as a relaxing therapy room, modern waiting area, kitchen and bathroom facilities. It is fully furnished with all of the same equipment available at the main hospital sites, including cold caps, which help reduce hair loss.
Royal Surrey currently sees up to 500 patients a week for chemotherapy and immunotherapy treatment. Once fully operational, the mobile unit will be able to treat around 80 of these patients a week.
Vicki Mumford, Divisional Head of Nursing for Oncology, said: “People are now living longer with cancer and this is testament to everybody who has worked to improve early diagnosis and treatment.
“For more patients than ever, cancer is now a long-term condition rather than an acute disease. These patients are parents, who want to do the school run, or continue to work during treatment. They don’t want their lives to revolve around appointments and their diagnosis.
“By bringing chemotherapy into the community we are bringing our expert care and treatment closer to home, which should allow many to continue to lead more normal lives.”
This is the fourth LloydsPharmacy Healthcare Centre and third mobile unit to launch since 2017. There are others in Scunthorpe, Cardiff and Harrow.