A unit which opened a year ago this week to care for cancer patients at Blackpool Victoria Hospital has so far helped more than 800 people.
The Acute Oncology Triage Unit, within the hospital’s Oncology and Haematology Day Unit, is a dedicated facility for supporting local patients who are going through – or have already been through – treatment for cancer.
The unit was made possible thanks to fundraising from hospital charity Blue Skies, Rosemere Cancer Foundation and local businesses including jewellers Beaverbrooks. In total, more than £100,000 was raised.
The unit means that patients may not need to attend the hospital’s Emergency Department, but instead can call the unit and receive specialist care from a team they already know in quiet surroundings.
Alison Melvin, advanced practitioner, said: “When we first started we thought we would see around 500 people in a year. We’ve actually seen 817. Of those, 668 were able to be seen and receive treatment in the same day so didn’t need admitting to hospital.”
Amanda Singleton, matron, added: “It’s about treating patients at the right time and in the right place and for our cancer patients it’s so important that it’s here with our dedicated, specialist team who know the patients and their cancer journey.
“People can ring us up and know we can see them and make sure they get the treatment they need, often without needing to admit them to hospital at all, for example to our Surgical Assessment Unit or Acute Medical Unit.
“This also plays an important role in reducing the number of patients seen by the hospital’s Emergency Department, and those being admitted to hospital at a very busy time.”
Patient Doreen Brown, of St Anne’s, said: “It’s such a nice place – not overwhelming or frightening at all. I’m very grateful for their support – they’re all wonderful.”
The triage unit team now consists of Amanda Singleton, matron; Alison Melvin, advanced practitioner; Gemma Robertson, trainee advanced practitioner; new recruit Claire Green, advanced clinical practitioner and David Collett, trainee advanced practitioner. It is also supported from the nursing team within the Oncology Day Unit.
Kila Redfern, head of fundraising at hospital charity Blue Skies, said: “It’s wonderful to see this facility mark its one-year anniversary. The team is doing such a great job, and feedback has been terrific.
“This is exactly why Blue Skies exists – to help make a difference to patients’ lives each day.”
Dan Hill, chief officer of Rosemere Cancer Foundation, said: “I would like to thank all our supporters and everyone who worked so hard to make the unit a reality. What none of us could have foreseen at the time of its opening was the global pandemic and how, in the early days especially, people were afraid to go anywhere near hospitals for fear of catching Covid and adding to the workload of staff.
“There were – and even are still – issues in accessing GPs and while we are being told of the consequences of this, what a godsend for local cancer patients that they had had this unit – a safe place for them to access urgent medical care from specialist cancer doctors and nurses. In that sense, its timing couldn’t have been better. The unit has become so important to so many patients and their families.”