Cancer patients from Cwmbran and the surrounding region will be able to receive chemotherapy from Tenovus’s mobile cancer support unit from today.
Launched in conjunction with Velindre NHS Trust, the 13.6m long, 60m² mobile unit is the first of its kind in the UK to deliver chemotherapy alongside other cancer support services such as education programmes, counselling and advice on money matters.
By delivering chemotherapy from the mobile unit, directly into communities, patients will receive cancer treatment without the often stressful and expensive journey to the hospital.
Visiting Cwmbran Sports Stadium every Thursday, the mobile unit contains three chemotherapy chairs and will be staffed by a specialist nursing team from Velindre Hospital.
It already visits Bridgend every Monday and Merthyr Tydfil every Wednesday to provide emotional and practical support and information for patients and their families.
Tenovus is working with community groups in these areas to run cancer education and awareness programmes to help them develop their own cancer prevention projects.
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 can now provide the complete package of services from chemotherapy through to support, counselling and advice.
“Chemotherapy will pilot in Cwmbran to begin with, an area identified by the Velindre NHS Team as one where patients need chemotherapy treatment that can be given in a local setting. Journeys from Cwmbran to the hospital can be stressful and costly for patients, so the mobile unit will be working to alleviate these issues.
“As more donations, fundraising and sponsorship come in, we will be expanding the route to other areas in Wales.
“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.
“The unit is indicative of the changing needs of patients, and of the ways we can now deliver cancer treatment, and our aim is to engage with patients as soon as they are diagnosed to really make a difference to their lives.
“Our research has shown that cancer incidence is 19 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 for patients.
“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.”
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.
The specialist team of cancer nurses at Velindre Cancer Centre has informed Gwent Ambulance of the comprehensive safety checks that will allow chemotherapy to be provided on the unit.
Andrea Hague, director of cancer services at Velindre Cancer Centre, said: “The team at Velindre is delighted to be working with Tenovus on such an exciting and unique project.
“The cancer nurses from Velindre are highly trained and are already experienced in providing chemotherapy outside of the hospital setting. In 2004, our team worked on a successful lottery-funded project where nurses delivered chemotherapy in patients’ homes in south Wales.
“The mobile unit is a new model which will be able to treat several patients in one place every week, and we look forward to working with Tenovus on this new way of delivering cancer treatment and care.”
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.”
* Figures from Macmillan