New unit hits the road after successful trial
A brand new, £300,000 mobile cancer care unit has hit the road following a successful trial by James Paget University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. The unit, which has been given the name Jewel, will allow patients across Great Yarmouth and Waveney to receive cancer treatment closer to their homes, removing the need to travel long distances to hospital. Jewel has been provided by charity Hope for Tomorrow, which builds and provides mobile cancer care units to NHS trusts, and has been funded entirely through a generous donation from global biopharmaceutical company Bristol Myers Squibb.
The Trust has been trialling a mobile cancer care unit for just over a year. Rather than patients having to drive to the hospital in Gorleston-on-Sea, the unit parks up in Morrisons and Tesco supermarket car parks in Beccles, Bradwell, Caister and Pakefield. This allows it to provide cancer treatment directly in local communities, saving patients time and money on treatment, which often lasts for several months and sometimes years. Inside, the units are just like hospital treatment rooms, with four treatment chairs, chemotherapy pump stands, and a medical grade fridge. They are equipped with air conditioning and a cooling and heating system for patient comfort, as well as a toilet and kitchen.
Among the patients currently receiving treatment on the unit is Jackie Sullivan, 75, from Bradwell. She said
“The unit is brilliant. It’s so convenient – there is no need to travel all the way to the hospital, as the mobile clinic visits the car park at my local supermarket just a short drive from my home.
“It’s really comfortable inside and really peaceful and relaxing, which is just what you want when you are having treatment, and the staff are so friendly. We are really lucky to have this type of facility available to cancer patients in our local community.”
Between April 21 and March 22 James Paget provided 689 treatments for 186 patients and in the first three months of this year they have already provided 416 treatments to 103 patients. This successful trial led to the trust taking delivery of Jewel, which it will use to provide cancer care directly in local communities for at least the next three years. The vehicles generally have a lifespan of 10 years before they are replaced.
James Paget University Hospital Chief Executive Joanne Segasby said: “We are delighted to be working with Hope for Tomorrow on this excellent initiative, which really enhances the service we offer our patients. The Mobile Cancer Care Unit has made such a difference to patients over the last year and their feedback about the service has been overwhelmingly positive. So it is great news that we now have a brand new unit to continue taking cancer treatment to our communities. It means that patients don’t have to travel to the hospital but can receive treatment closer to home from our team in a relaxing environment – and, in addition, it helps free-up capacity for other patients at the Sandra Chapman Centre, our cancer treatment department on the hospital site.”
Tina Seymour, chief executive of Hope for Tomorrow, said: “We have been working closely with the NHS trusts in Norfolk to enable them to provide cancer care closer to their patients and are delighted that we have been able to help James Paget University Hospitals NHS Foundation bring cancer care closer to its communities. At a stressful time in their lives, patients and their families really value the combination of the great service they receive from NHS staff and the convenience provided by our mobile treatment units. With spiralling living costs and a backlog in cancer care, this unit will make a big difference to cancer patients in the area.”
Scott Cooke, General Manager of UK and Ireland at Bristol Myers Squibb, added,
“We’re really proud to have supported Hope for Tomorrow and James Paget by providing them with this funding. We recognise how vital the mobile units are in delivering cancer treatment to areas that need it most. BMS remains dedicated to supporting the NHS in its COVID-19 recovery, and this mobile care unit will make a real difference to thousands of people’s lives.”
Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust also has a mobile cancer care unit, which provides treatment in Attleborough, Beccles, Dereham and Fakenham. The introduction of Jewel by James Paget means that the Norfolk and Suffolk populations now have access to the largest number of mobile cancer care treatment locations in the country.
The new vehicle was named Jewel, by Bristol Myers Squibb staff, in recognition of researcher Jewel Plumber Cobb PhD, who advanced the understanding of skin cancer and spearheaded the advancement of women and minorities in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).