Sir George Young came on board Hampshire’s own Mobile Chemotherapy Unit on Wednesday 18th February at Andover War Memorial Hospital and heard first-hand how mobile chemotherapy makes going through cancer treatment miles better.
It’s been two and a half years since Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust took delivery of the state-of-the-art Unit, known as Amy, from the charity, Hope for Tomorrow. The Unit was initially launched at Andover War Memorial Hospital on 1st August 2012, and the location is visited each week by Amy in order to bring cancer treatment closer to home for patients living in the Andover area.
Hope for Tomorrow put the world’s first Mobile Chemotherapy Unit on the road in 2007. The development of the mobile chemotherapy service has been ranked as one of the most transformational patient care innovations in the past 25 years by a leading consultant oncologist.
Sue Bain, from Shipton Bellinger, is treated on the Unit at Andover. She said, “It’s wonderful to be able to fit my treatment into a normal working day, rather than spending a whole day travelling to, and waiting around at, the hospital. It is so much easier and more accessible for me, and I really appreciate the relaxed atmosphere on the Unit and how the nurses are able to get to know you as a person, as well as a patient.”
Sir George Young said, “I enjoyed meeting one of my constituents from Shipton Bellinger, who is a patient and has benefited enormously from this local access to the treatment. She was very complimentary about the support she got from the nurses, and said that she enjoyed the chats she had in Amy with others receiving treatment, who had now become her friends.”
Rachel Johnstone, Regional Fundraiser from Hope for Tomorrow said, “It is so rewarding to see the difference our Mobile Chemotherapy Unit makes to cancer patients throughout Hampshire. By bringing cancer treatment closer to home, it gives people more precious time with their loved ones, to find a life outside of cancer.”
Dr Lara Alloway, Clinical Director, Cancer Services said, “Our patients tell us that they want us to provide local services where it is possible and central services where it is necessary for their safety. Being able to offer some people the opportunity to have their chemotherapy near home, helps us achieve this. We get excellent feedback from our patients who are able to use the mobile unit and we look forward to taking the vehicle to other parts of our community soon.”
Mr John Coleman from Andover was one of the first patients to be treated on Amy. He was unable to make the event but said, “I can’t praise the treatment I had on board Amy enough. It was wonderful to make the short trip to the Unit without having to rely on lifts and without the worry of finding a parking space hanging over me. It’s very relaxing on board and everything feels much more personal. The Mobile Chemotherapy Unit certainly eases so many of the pressures associated with cancer treatment and has made life a lot easier for me.”
Whilst the Unit alleviates the burden of having to travel many miles for treatment, there are many other benefits to being closer to home. The fact that the Unit is parked up on a patient’s home turf makes the prospect of a gruelling treatment feel less threatening, and when patients find themselves in a supportive environment with people from their own community, new friendships are formed.
Amy has made a huge difference to those diagnosed with cancer living in rural communities across Hampshire, to those without the support networks to take them to and from their appointments, and to the many for whom the prospect of a long journey home after an exhausting treatment is just too much.
Hope for Tomorrow Mobile Chemotherapy Unit (MCU) facts:
- Each MCU costs the Hope for Tomorrow charity £260,00 to build and maintain for three years
- The interiors were designed with help from cancer patients. Amy became the fourth unit in operation in August 2012 and was named by Lord March of Goodwood, in memory of his Great Grandmother.
- Hope for Tomorrow also supplies Hampshire Hospitals NHS Trust with a car so chemotherapy nurses can travel between the oncology centre and the MCU’s rural locations
- Each Unit can treat up to 20 patients a day, and this includes line care and blood tests, as well as chemotherapy treatment
Find out more about Hope for Tomorrow at www.hopefortomorrow.org.uk