UK's first cancer support bus launched

3 Feb 2009

Tenovus unveils UK’s first mobile cancer support unit

Welsh cancer charity Tenovus has unveiled the first holistic mobile unit in the UK that can deliver chemotherapy and cancer support to patients and their families away from hospital.

The unit was officially opened yesterday by Welsh First Minister Rhodri Morgan at a launch event at The Celtic Manor Resort, Newport, venue for The 2010 Ryder Cup. The mobile unit then takes to the road on its first journey to Bridgend and Merthyr Tydfil on 9 and 11 February respectively and every same weekday thereafter.

Staffed by Tenovus and four chemotherapy nurses from Velindre Hospital in Cardiff, the mobile unit will deliver chemotherapy away from the hospital, in a local community setting, cutting patients’ journey times by delivering cancer treatment and support closer to their homes.

As well as delivering chemotherapy (from the 5 March 2009), the 13.6m long and 60m² mobile unit will provide emotional and practical support, including advice on money matters, to patients and their families through the Tenovus specialist Cancer Support Team.

Tenovus Bus

Tenovus will also use the unit to run cancer education and awareness programmes in communities across Wales and help them develop their own cancer prevention projects.

This will be the first time in the UK that such a unit will be able to deliver cancer support and treatment in this way.

Claudia McVie, Chief Executive of Tenovus, said: “Forty six people a day in Wales are told they have cancer, and this figure will double by 2020. The combination of more people being diagnosed with cancer and increasing survival rates mean that a growing number of people are in need of our help.

“We have designed the mobile unit which with our specialist Cancer Support Team and nurses from Velindre Hospital will deliver the best possible treatment and care for patients, as well as provide a complete package of support services for those affected by cancer.

“Reports show that each cancer patient will visit hospital an average of 53 times. The physical, emotional and financial costs of travelling to treatment centres and hospitals are great for many cancer patients, and the mobile unit aims to ease these pressures for patients and their families by taking the services directly to them.

“Our research has shown that cancer incidence is 22 per cent higher in Wales than in England, and there is a higher risk of cancer in areas of social deprivation, where outcomes are often worse.

“Therefore, we feel that our mobile unit is truly groundbreaking work which will help meet the needs of today’s cancer patients and to address the inequities our research showed cancer patients across Wales face. Through this exciting project that we’re extremely proud of, we hope that we can make a real difference to cancer treatment and survival rates in Wales.”

Rhodri Morgan said, “I congratulate Tenovus on developing such a wonderful facility in partnership with the NHS in Wales. This mobile unit is a prime example of the benefits that can come from public sector organisations working with charities for the good of the nation.

“Fighting cancer is enough of a challenge without having to cope with the physical, emotional and financial stress of long journeys to specialist units so I am delighted that Wales is leading the way in the UK with this mobile unit in making treatment and support available to patients closer to home.

“The support element of the unit is also a vital part of the service as helping people and their families come to terms with the realities of cancer is as important as the treatment itself.”

Tenovus is the official charity partner for Ryder Cup Wales 2010 Ltd. Through this partnership Tenovus aims to raise £1 million to fund the mobile cancer support unit project. In 2008, The Ryder Cup trophy was taken on a Wales-wide helicopter tour of golf clubs, and Tenovus has benefited from Ryder Cup Wales auctions and contributions at gala dinners.

John Jermine, Chairman of Ryder Cup Wales, said: “We are hugely grateful to European Tour Chief Executive George O’Grady and his team whose generous support of Tenovus will help us raise the funds for these mobile units benefiting the whole of Wales and establishing a life enhancing legacy for generations to come.”

The mobile unit will be complemented by a network of local Tenovus support centres, providing services such as patient and family counselling and bereavement support. From the local support centres Tenovus will also run research projects, health education and cancer prevention activities Tenovus will open its first local support centre later this year.

Andrea Hague, Director of Patient Services at Velindre Hospital, said: “The team at Velindre is delighted to be working with Tenovus on such an exciting and unique project, and we look forward to developing plans for the future on this new way of delivering patient treatment and care.”