Dame Judi Dench has officially launched a new mobile chemotherapy unit that will allow cancer patients to receive care closer to home.
The Oscar winning actress, 85, opened the state-of-the-art unit, which is the first of its kind in the South East, during a special ceremony on Wednesday, February 26.
Dame Judi toured the ultra-modern facility, as well as speaking to staff and meeting patients, who will benefit from the service.
The mobile unit comes as a result of collaboration between us, Lloyds Pharmacy and the charity Tenovus Cancer Care and will move between sites in Woking, Surrey, and Horsham, West Sussex.
We currently see up to 500 patients a week for treatment and once fully operational the mobile unit will treat around 80 of these patients a week.
Vicki Mumford, Divisional Head of Nursing for Oncology, said: “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 employees who want to 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.”
Tenovus Cancer Care’s state-of-the-art purpose built mobile support unit features seven chemotherapy chairs, as well as a relaxing therapy room, a 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.
The treatments, which include traditional chemotherapy and immunotherapy, will be administered by nurses from Lloyds Pharmacy Clinical Homecare.
All patients will remain under the care and supervision of their consultant at the Trust.
Complementary therapies delivered by the Fountain Centre team will also be available, including massage, aromatherapy and much more.
Patients will be eligible to use the unit once they have safely undergone two treatments with us, which will ensure any side effects that may occur can be addressed.
After that they can choose to have future treatments in the convenient mobile unit.
Ronald Ruffele, 67, a retired gardener, from Woking, has a tumour on his right lung and is currently receiving immunotherapy treatment.
“The mobile unit is fabulous. I’ve had a head massage and the offer of a foot massage.
“It is only four miles away from home, so I won’t have to spend as much time traveling to Guildford.
“The unit itself is very modern and a bit like one of those American campervans, everything moves out sideways.”
Sue Sjuve, Chair of Royal Surrey NHS Trust, said: “We would to thank Dame Judi for joining us today and officially opening our mobile chemotherapy unit.
“I am so delighted and impressed when I see and hear about the compassion and commitment of our clinical teams who provide the very best care for our patients and also the way we have worked together with Lloyds and Tenovus to create this facility”.
“It is thanks to the skill and expertise of everyone involved that we are able to deliver initiatives like this to enable our patients to live better lives.”
The service was developed and designed by dedicated teams from us and Lloyds Pharmacy and Tenovus Cancer Care, who have kindly provided the unit.
It is part of the Lloyds Pharmacy Healthcare Centre concept which launched in 2017 and aims to provide more treatments outside of traditional hospital environments.
Alison Ansell, Healthcare Development Manager, from Lloyds Pharmacy 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 at home, 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.”
Judi Rhys, Tenovus Cancer Care Chief Executive, said: “We’re very proud of our industry-leading mobile support units and are delighted to be providing our newest unit to the Royal Surrey NHS Foundation Trust and Lloyds Pharmacy.
“Tenovus Cancer Care firmly believes in the benefits of providing cancer treatments in the heart of communities across England and Wales and thanks to this new partnership many hundreds of patients will be able to access high-quality care closer to home.”