Patients at North Middlesex University Hospital are being offered more convenient cancer treatment during the coronavirus pandemic, including chemotherapy buses and the rollout of an innovative and life-saving type of radiotherapy.
North Mid has increased treatment outside of hospital including fast-tracking the use of ‘chemo buses’, supplied by charity Hope for Tomorrow, so people can receive life-saving care without having to travel long distances.
Although some cancer treatments which weaken the immune system have had to be paused until a safer time, frontline staff have pulled out all the stops to ensure people can get cancer care.
Two cancer buses, based in North Middlesex University Hospital have allowed around 20 sessions a day to go ahead.
The buses have space for clinical teams to give chemo to four patients at a time, directly outside of the hospital.
The NHS is also accelerating the use of stereotactic ablative radiotherapy (SABR) which requires fewer doses than standard radiotherapy, cutting the number of hospital visits that potentially vulnerable cancer patients need to make.
It is a very precise method using a high dose of radiations with only around five outpatient visits, compared to conventional radiotherapy, requiring 20 – 30 treatments.
The radiotherapy team at North Mid successfully treated its first patient yesterday using SABR.
In a visit to North Mid yesterday, NHS England Chief Executive Sir Simon Stevens saw how cancer services have adapted during the pandemic. He met with staff to hear about the work that has gone into keeping services running and with patients who praised the fact that care has stayed local to them.
Maria Kane, Chief Executive of North Middlesex University Hospital, said: “There’s no doubt that coronavirus is causing challenges and disruption to so many aspects of life for many people, health services included. The partnership with Hope for Tomorrow means this huge concern for our chemotherapy patients can simply be forgotten, and they can continue to get the treatment they need, without extra worry.
“I was pleased that Sir Simon was able to see first-hand the hard work that has gone into continuing our services and I’m proud of our oncology teams for making this happen.”
Sir Simon Stevens, NHS chief executive said: “While the NHS has pulled out all the stops to deal with the 95,000 patients who have needed hospital treatment for Covid-19 they have also worked hard to care for those with urgent and emergency conditions such as cancer.
“Staff have gone to great lengths to deliver care treatment for patients in a safe space, either at or close to home. From online consultations to chemo buses and covid free hubs, staff are doing all they can to care for patients during this extraordinary time.
“We are also accelerating the use of SABR – a potentially life-saving radiotherapy for people with cancer which also provides an alternative option for those who may be particularly vulnerable at this current time.
“Lives are saved if more people are referred for checks and so I would urge you to seek help if you have a worrying symptom, the NHS is here for you.
“Not coming forward can have serious consequences now or in the future.”