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in the queue for the chemo bus

In the queue for the chemo bus outside the North Mid

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, North Middlesex University Hospital is continuing to treat cancer patients. While some treatments which weaken the immune system have had to be paused until a safer time, innovative methods are being used to reduce inconvenience to patients. The hospital is using "chemo buses" to enable treatment without entering the hospital buildings, and has introduced a new type of radiotherapy.

"Chemo buses"

Since 2007 the charity Hope for Tomorrow has built up a fleet of ten MCCUs (mobile cancer care units), which are deployed by NHS trusts around the country. Being mobile, they can be driven to locations which are nearer to patients' homes, but during the Covid-19 outbreak having the two buses at the North Mid means that patients whose immune systems might be compromised don't need to enter the hospital buildings.

Simon Stevens visits North Mid chemo service June 2020

NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens meets a patient inside one of the chemo buses

Each of the buses parked outside the hospital has space for four patients at time to receive chemotherapy sessions, seated in a comfortable reclining armchair, allowing around twenty chemotherapy sessions a day.

Very precise radiotherapy = fewer hospital visits by potentially vulnerable patients

On 10th June the radiotherapy team at the North Mid successfully treated its first patient using a technique called SABR - stereotactic ablative radiotherapy. It is a very precise method using a high dose of radiations. Only around five outpatient visits are needed, compared to conventional radiotherapy, which requires 20-30 treatments. Potentially vulnerable patients thus need to make fewer hospital visits.

"Not coming forward can have serious consequences"

Also on 10th June the hospital was visited by the chief executive of the NHS, Sir Simon Stevens, who emphasized that, as well as dealing with the 95,000 patients who have needed hospital treatment for Covid-19, NHS staff 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.”

As a cancer charity

hope for tomorrow logoWe understand that time is a crucial factor for patients, and in 2007 we launched the world’s first ever Mobile Cancer Care Unit (previously Mobile Chemotherapy Unit) to bring vital cancer care closer to patients, enabling them to spend more time with family, friends and loved ones.

We develop, build, provide and maintain MCCUs to support patients who are going through cancer treatment by alleviating the stresses and strains of travelling for appointments, along with reducing hospital waiting times.

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