Gloria Hunniford is heading up a campaign to promote the delivery of localised NHS cancer treatment with the use of mobile cancer care units.Gloria lost her daughter, Caron Keating, to breast cancer in 2004 and is a patron of charity Hope for Tomorrow, which provides the NHS with mobile cancer care units. The charity is launching its ‘Cuppa for Cancer Care’ initiative to coincide with World Cancer Day as an annual event to help fund the service which improves the life of cancer patients across the country.
Gloria said: “Cancer can take a terrible toll on individuals and their families. Travelling for repeated treatment is often difficult, stressful and time-consuming, for so many people. The mobile cancer care units and specialist NHS nurses drive out to patients’ communities rather than them having to travel to hospital. This makes a difficult time that much easier for them.”
Cuppa for Cancer Care takes place from Monday 30 January to Sunday 5 February, around World Cancer Day, which is on Saturday 4 February 2023. The charity wants people from across the country to get together for tea, coffee and cake in aid of supporting mobile cancer care.
Gloria continued: “Patients regularly comment on how great the nurses and drivers are, with the team immediately making them comfortable and offering them a cup of tea or coffee. That’s where the idea of Cuppa for Cancer Care came from, and we hope that people across the country will get together for this wonderful cause. The mobile units are a fabulous asset in their communities.”
Inside, the units are just like hospital treatment rooms, with four treatment chairs, chemotherapy pump stands, and medical storage facilities. They are equipped with air conditioning and a cooling and heating system for patient comfort, as well as a toilet and kitchen. One NHS trust is currently trialling a unit with separate consultation rooms that extend hydraulically from the unit. Eleven NHS trusts currently have mobile cancer care units and last year they provided over 26,000 treatments.
United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (ULHT) has operated a mobile cancer care unit since 2014. It allows patients to be treated in Louth, Skegness and Spalding. A brand-new replacement unit is currently under construction and is due to come into service next year.
Chantelle Dawson, Deputy Sister for Oncology across ULHT said:
“The reason our MCCU is so great is that it allows us to support people locally. This means that patients do not have to travel as far for their vital treatment, with some people even choosing to walk to the unit. This is a real benefit to a lot of our patients as it decreases their travel time whilst potentially suffering pain and nausea from their treatment. I’ve also found that because this is a local service our patients get to know each other and their nursing team and then visiting the unit for treatment feels more like meeting up with friends.”
“Because patients see the same faces week after week, we develop a real trust with them and a truly therapeutic relationship. Many patients have found the setting to be relaxing and they benefit from emotional support and advice as well receiving the same excellent treatment they would on a chemotherapy suite.”
‘I’m just so proud to be able to nurse on board the MCCU, every trust should have one, they really do change people’s lives.”
Hope for Tomorrow’s latest patient feedback shows that, on average, for each treatment, patients save two-and-a-half hours, 20 travel miles, and £6 on parking. With treatment lasting several months and sometimes years, the time and financial savings can be considerable. Seventy-one percent of patients said they can tolerate their treatment more easily on a mobile cancer care unit, while 47% felt that they were more likely to complete their full course of treatment.
Tina Seymour, Hope for Tomorrow chief executive said:
“The mobile units allow cancer patients to have their treatment in a much more convenient way, taking away the disruption that long journeys can bring. They tell us that it makes a huge difference to them and they love the friendly atmosphere provided by the NHS staff and drivers. It costs £212 a day to keep a mobile cancer care unit on the road so fundraising is vital to keep the service going.”
Hope for Tomorrow was founded by Christine Mills MBE in December 2003. Christine had a very personal reason for wanting to establish mobile cancer care; her husband David suffered from cancer. The couple had to endure the stress and pain of regular 60-mile journeys to the oncology centre for his treatment. Christine also sadly died from cancer in September 2018.
Anyone interested in hosting an event, however big or small, should visit www.hopefortomorrow.org.uk/cuppa to sign up for a free fundraising pack.
Cuppa for Cancer Care is sponsored by Janes Pantry.
For more information on Hope for Tomorrow visit www.hopefortomorrow.org.uk