A NEW chemotherapy service has been launched at Ashford Hospital to allow people leaving nearby to receive treatment without having to travel much further to specialist centres. What is regarded as an important milestone is due to a joint project between Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals and The Royal Surrey County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust ahead of their planned merger next year. The service was officially launched last week. Sarah Burton, Macmillan lead nurse for cancer and palliative care at Ashford & St Peter’s Hospitals, said: “Traditionally, patients from the Ashford area would have to travel to Guildford (St Luke’s) around the M25 or into London for their treatment, with expensive travel costs. “Facing these journeys when you are receiving chemotherapy is tough; being able to offer the same service that is provided at a specialist cancer centre on your doorstep can make a real difference to patients having to cope with difficult and stressful treatments. “This joint service means we can bring the expertise of the specialist oncologists from The Royal Surrey County Hospital to Ashford Hospital, where patients are able to receive their treatments supported by our own specialist nursing team.” She said the project has started with breast cancer patients, but plans are in place to widen it to people with other forms of cancer, starting with lung cancer. The chemotherapy is administered in the new infusion suite at Ashford Hospital by members of the specialist nursing team. The suite, opened just under two years ago, is a purpose-built facility kitted out with the latest high-tech equipment needed to deliver complex treatments. Suzanne Rankin, chief executive of Ashford and St Peter’s, said: “This project marks an important milestone in the development of our joint clinical vision between Ashford & St Peter’s Hospitals and The Royal Surrey County Hospital. “Not only does it mark an exciting future for Ashford Hospital, but by bringing together our respective expertise and talents we can offer tangible benefits to patients right across West Surrey. “Through the merger we want to develop Ashford Hospital as a planned surgery and diagnostic centre where we can expand treatments and outpatient care for people with cancer, including further chemotherapy services and even radiotherapy.” Nick Moberly, chief executive at The Royal Surrey County Hospital, attending the launch last week, added: “I am delighted to see the results of our partnership and impressed by what we are able to do for patients in this part of Surrey.
“This joint service is a testament to what we can achieve together and sets the bar high for our developing plans as we move closer to merging our two successful Foundation Trusts.” According to a hospital spokesman work is progressing on the merger between Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals and The Royal Surrey County Hospital NHS Foundation Trusts, with the earliest go-live date set at June next year. This will be dependent on a number of regulatory approvals and the Trusts’ own detailed implementation plans.
Top team: From left, Peter Dunt, Heather Caudle, Aileen McLeish, Charlotte Freeman, Carole Redfern,
Dr David Fluck, Sarah Burton, Carey Harnetty, Faithe Cockroft, Nick Moberly, and Suzanne Rankin
at the launch last week.