Generous fundraisers and medics got together to officially unveil a new haematology and oncology assessment bay at NGH, which is aimed to keep cancer patients out of A&E.
Oncology and haematology patients are often ill between their treatment cycles and require emergency support and review, sometimes immediately. The urgent nature of these complications means that patients are unable to wait for outpatient appointments.
The support provided to patients at present is to attend an existing emergency assessment bay (EAB) in the oncology outpatient department, during the hours of 9am-5pm Monday to Friday. Outside of these times - and when capacity has been reached in the current EAB - patients are advised to visit A&E.
With the patient’s immune system often compromised due to treatment, they could be exposed to unnecessary infection making A&E a far from ideal place for them to be. The new EAB will have dedicated areas for triage, assessment and examinations in an environment that is open and spacious offering patients round-the-clock specialist assessment.
Ward sister Emma Cuthbert said: "It’s not making our lives easier it’s more about the patient because at the moment we are offering a Monday to Friday 9-5 service, which is over in the oncology department and then out of those hours patients have to ring the warden and we triage them and most of the time we have to send them through A&E.
"But having the emergency assessment bay on the ward is going to be in use 24/7. So patients are going to be phoning us and we can bring them straight to the ward so they can bypass A&E."
The money for the room was raised through fundraising efforts co-ordinated by onsite charity, Northamptonshire Health Charitable Fund, which aims to enhance patient experience beyond what the NHS can fund.
Among those to donate, and attend the official opening, included Nene Valley Rotary Club who pledged £7,200 and the Kislingbury Jazz Festival Team who raised £8,000.
Emma added: "There’s going to be more continuity for the patients now.
"They will come in and they will see nurses who have been treating them all throughout their treatment. I think that the patients will feel more safe down here because there are patients who are neutropenic and we can isolate them.
"When you have chemotherapy your counts drop after a while and your infection fighting cells drop so patients are susceptible to infection. And having patients here, and not in A&E, is a lot better for them."
The bay will be officially opened on Monday (October 1) fitted with five chairs, two beds an isolation room and an examination room ready for when the winter pressures start.
Some of the patients admitted to the bay will have tumours and some will need blood transfusions.
Alison McCulloch from Northamptonshire Health Charitable Fund has been hard at work coordinating the fundraising for the bay on Talbot Butler ward, for nine months.
She said: "£350,000 has been raised by donations through the charity that we already had for the different departments and within those nine months the local community have given us £100,000, which is incredible.
"It's brilliant to see it alive now and actually see what the patients are going to benefit from. It's a fantastic assessment area and the builders work so hard to get it done in such a short period of time - they didn't come in until the end of June.
"This is going to make a real difference and patients can come straight to the door here and not A&E. They can ring a number and let them know that they are coming in and they get accepted here so they don't have to sit for hours."
The charity still needs to raise £62,000 for the project as part of the funds for the ward has come out of their reserves. You can contact the charity team to make a donation on 01604 626927 or you fundraise for the new emergency assessment bay by clicking here.