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Membership Matters

Mobile chemotherapy unit takes to the road

The first patients in the region were treated at the brand-new mobile chemotherapy unit (MCU) when it took to the road this month.

This ground-breaking project is a first for the Trust and a huge amount of work and dedication took place behind the scenes to bring it to reality. Teams from right across the Trust including finance, estates, infection prevention, domestic services, IT, purchasing and procurement, transport, nursing and cancer information and support services collaborated to support the project.

Lizzie Walker, Chemotherapy Lead Nurse and Project Manager for the unit, said: “Setting this up from scratch required vital input from the transport team. We are really grateful for their enthusiasm and shared vision to get this project up and running - we really have become one team.

“The logistics of owning, maintaining and moving a unit of this size has been a huge undertaking for the transport team as this is something that has not been done by the Trust before and has been a major part of the project. There have been many challenges faced but they have always found ways to overcome them to allow the nursing team to deliver patient care. They are an asset to the MCU service.”

The unit will visit Scarborough and Bridlington hospitals, Malton Rugby Club and Selby Hospital each week on fixed days to treat those patients who are having regular cycles of chemotherapy. The Trust’s dedicated MCU driving team takes it to the site each day where it takes the driver around an hour to set up each morning and close down on an evening. Transport staff also need special HGV training.

Philip Bland, Deputy Transport Manager, said: “We’re delighted to be so heavily involved in this fantastic scheme. From a transport perspective, many hours of preparation and planning have gone into getting this project literally ‘on the road.’ We are already seeing the benefits that the unit brings to our communities and especially the patients receiving treatment, not only in terms of accessibility but ensuring that we can help reduce any further stress by significantly reducing journey times.”

The unit was designed by the MCU project team and has incorporated some of the latest design and technology to make it a modern and bright environment. There are specific criteria for treatments for this nurse led service as there are no doctors on board. Nurses have access to emergency equipment and will be supported by the ambulance service if needed. All patients will have their first couple of cycles in either of the main units at York or Scarborough hospitals.

Karen Cowley, Directorate Manager for Specialist Medicine, said: “We are absolutely thrilled to have launched our first mobile chemotherapy unit and the positive uptake we have had from patients wanting to be treated on the unit already. It will ensure we deliver treatment closer to home for our patients where appropriate across North Yorkshire.

“The unit will also help with the demand on each of the Trust sites. With chemotherapy activity continuing to grow month on month, and new treatments evolving all the time, we are fast reaching capacity. It will help us to continue to meet demand in a timely manner without compromising on the quality of care we can provide.

“This initiative has also been embraced by our staff and provides them with the opportunity to work in a revolutionary way which has undoubtedly helped us in maintaining the staffing levels we require at a difficult time.”

The unit will visit Scarborough and Bridlington hospitals, Malton Rugby Club and Selby Hospital each week on fixed days to treat those patients who are having regular cycles of chemotherapy. The Trust’s dedicated MCU driving team takes it to the site each day where it takes the driver around an hour to set up each morning and close down on an evening. Transport staff also need special HGV training.

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