A new unit helping care for cancer patients at Blackpool Victoria Hospital is receiving praise after opening during the pandemic to already support almost 300 patients, 80 per cent of whom would have otherwise ended up attending the hospital’s Emergency Department (ED).
The new Acute Oncology Triage Unit, within the Oncology and Haematology Unit, is a dedicated facility for supporting local patients who are going through – or have already been through – treatment for cancer.
These patients are often especially vulnerable because of compromised immune systems due to their treatment, which can make them more susceptible to infections, and some may also need to medical help because of treatment side-effects such as uncontrolled vomiting, anaemia and dehydration. In both instances, these patients would have previously had to attend the ED.
Now the dedicated unit is up-and-running, thanks to fundraising efforts from Rosemere Cancer Foundation which, along with the hospital’s own charity Blue Skies Hospitals Fund, raised more than £100,000 to convert what was formerly a disused operating theatre at the rear of the hospital’s Oncology and Haematology Day Unit. It is estimated it will help more than 500 cancer patients annually.
Watch a video about the new unit here.
At the triage unit, patients are able to avoid a visit to the ED and receive fast, personal treatment in a dedicated space with staff they are familiar with. It is staffed by a team including a doctor, advanced clinical practitioner, nurses and a matron.
Amanda Singleton, Oncology and Haematology Matron, said: “This is a wonderful facility that will benefit so many patients. Patients can attend and be cared for by staff who know them, and who also specialise in this area of treatment.
“We’d like to thank everyone who helped raise the funds, including many Fylde Coast former cancer patients, who knew how important this facility could be, to make the unit possible.”
Dr Jim Gardner, Medical Director at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, added: “This unit will have tremendous benefits for residents of the Fylde Coast who will be able to quickly access the care and support they need, and I’d like to thank everyone who played a part in making it possible.”
Patients have also praised the new unit. Sandra Green, 76, of Fleetwood, said: “Everybody is lovely – so friendly and nothing is too much trouble. It’s a difficult time but coming here makes things a little easier.”
Dan Hill, Chief Officer at Rosemere Cancer Foundation, added: “We are both relieved and grateful that the Fylde community got behind our campaign to build this unit and that the Trust has been able to get and keep it up-and-running despite the extra pressures that the pandemic has brought.
“It was always going to make a huge difference to those going through cancer treatment but its value during the pandemic cannot be over-estimated. The last months have been an incredibly difficult time for all those going through cancer treatment but to know that should they fall sick or experience worrying treatment side-effects that this facility is on their doorstep and accessible to them is a real source of comfort.”
Rosemere Cancer Foundation works to bring world-class cancer treatments and services to patients throughout Lancashire and South Cumbria, at its own specialist centre at Royal Preston Hospital and another eight local hospital units including Blackpool Victoria.
Kila Redfearn, Head of Fundraising at Blue Skies, the Trust’s charity, said: “We’re so pleased to see the new facility being used and providing such a great service for patients going through cancer treatment.
“To be able to access specialist treatment through this dedicated route will be so beneficial to our patients. It’s a perfect example of charitable funding enhancing patient care, so a big thank you goes out to everyone involved for pulling it all together.”
Funds were raised for the unit in less than a year from a variety of activities, supported by donations from local businesses including Blackpool town centre-based insolvency practice Adcroft Hilton and jewellers Beaverbrooks.