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Chemotherapy and cancer surgeries moved to new hospital for patients to continue treatment during Covid-19 pandemic

Pictured left to right is Christelles Bisunga, Nikki Akar, Chelo Bou, Sharon Murray and Yagmur Kocak

The Covid-19 pandemic has rapidly changed the way our hospitals deliver services for patients. While we care for patients with Covid-19, treatments for patients with cancer, including chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery, along with other critical services, still need to go ahead.

To keep these services going, while protecting our patients most at risk if they were to contract Covid-19, we have temporarily moved some appointments and surgeries to Spire Hartswood Hospital in Brentwood. In just one week, teams from across our Trust worked with Spire staff to move the majority of chemotherapy, some cancer and neurology surgeries, and other urgent outpatient appointments to a completely new location. 

Chemotherapy treatment lowers a patient’s immune system, putting them at a higher risk if they were to contract Covid-19. To keep the risk of patients coming into contact with the virus as low as possible the majority of chemotherapy will take place at the new location. Stuart McCaighy, Specialty Manager for Haematology and Oncology explained the work involved in making the move happen:

 “The move was a wonderful example of teamwork, not only within our Trust but also with the Spire team. Everyone came together and played their part to make it happen. Usually, when a patient comes for chemotherapy the doctor will write the prescription, and then the chemotherapy drugs are made on-site at Queen’s Hospital by our Pharmacy team. Some of these drugs only have a ‘shelf life’ of four hours, so the Pharmacy team have worked closely and at pace with our Patient Transport team to make sure that the drugs are prescribed, made, transported and given to the patient within the right time frame.

“Other teams have also made vital contributions to make this move happen and to make sure appointments run as smoothly as if they were happening at one of our hospitals. Our Medical Records team ensure the patient’s notes are ready at the new location with very short notice, alongside our Transport colleagues. Our IT team quickly established access to our Trust systems at Spire so that nurses and doctors can access important information such as blood test results.

“We are very grateful to our multidisciplinary Oncology team of doctors, nurses and admin and clerical staff whose dedication and adaptability has allowed us to open this new facility at Spire whilst also covering Oncology needs at Queen’s Hospital, and also contributing to Covid-19 staffing.

“The principles of the move were to make sure that we could continue to give patients their chemotherapy treatment, and also to protect these patients from Covid-19 as much as we possibly can.

“A small number of patients will continue to have their Chemotherapy at Queen’s Hospital – for example if their treatment needs to happen alongside timed radiotherapy. To protect these patients, our Security team have helped us to effectively separate the Cancer area from the rest of the hospital with a security controlled door.”

As well as Chemotherapy services, we have also moved some surgeries and urgent procedures to Spire. Lucy Gladman, Deputy Divisional Manager for Anaesthetics explained more about the changes:

“In under three days we moved urology, breast and skin cancer surgeries, as well as neurosurgery for patients who may risk becoming paralysed if they didn’t have their procedure done urgently.”

“We also moved a number of clinics over to the new site, including eye injection clinics to prevent some of our patients from losing their sight. As well as that, infusions are now taking place for dermatology, gastro, rheumatology and neurology patients who need IV medications.”

“Our next step will be to move ophthalmology, urology and gynaecology outpatient clinics and gynaecological cancer diagnostics.”

(Pictured left to right is Christelles Bisunga, Nikki Akar, Chelo Bou, Sharon Murray and Yagmur Kocak)

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