SPECIAL REPORT: Chemotherapy unit at Northampton General Hospital needs your help

Artist impression of the new divided chemotherapy suite at NGH NNL-140907-124151001
Artist impression of the new divided chemotherapy suite at NGH NNL-140907-124151001

Northampton General Hospital has launched an appeal to raise £350,000 to make its chemotherapy suite “more uplifting” for patients and staff.

The department, which cares for people receiving treatment for all types of cancer, plans to create four new rooms as part of a £350,000 rejuvenation project.

Work spaces for staff in the chemotherapy department at NGH are also due to be refurbished NNL-140907-124141001

Work spaces for staff in the chemotherapy department at NGH are also due to be refurbished NNL-140907-124141001

Started in April this year and forecast to be completed by the same time next year, the project has already made headway with the unveiling of a brand new treatment room, thanks to donations from the Bigley family in memory of Andrew Bigley, who received treatment there before sadly passing away a few years ago.

The family raised more than £30,000 to build the room, which is now used every day by patients for consultations and blood tests.

Community fundraiser for Northamptonshire Health Charitable Fund (NHCF), Alison McCulloch, said: “We want to make it more inspirational for patients because a positive frame of mind is so important medically.”

The campaign will see the open-plan chemotherapy treatment room divided into separate bays, allowing more privacy for patients.

Further plans for the department also include a better equipped room for nurses to prepare treatments more efficiently, a utility room to maintain products, such as “cool caps” that can be worn by women during chemotherapy to reduce hair loss, and a special room for a doctor and pharmacist to be able to write prescriptions on site.

“Changes like this, such as making prescriptions instantly rather than waiting hours for them to be delivered to other departments and back, will make everything more efficient,” said Mrs McCulloch.

“We are not increasing space or changing treatments, we are trying to make better use of the space we have and staff time.

“It’s all about the little things. The haemotology department has installed new painted windows and chairs in the waiting room and it makes so much difference to the general environment.”

But despite generous donations already received, the charity needs further support to meet its £350,000 target.

Mrs McCulloch said: “We’ve held various events ourselves, including organising for 25 of our nurses to get involved in a very muddy “chemo commando” course.

“We also had a raffle and cake sale for patients which raised over £800 in one afternoon. But they are already really passionate about their suite and they can only do so much.”

Sandra Galvin, aged 69 from Winslow, visits the chemotherapy suite regularly for ovarian cancer treatment and she said: “The department is looking very tired now and it’s not very comfortable for visitors.

“Some patients can be there having treatment all day and they don’t want people looking at them.

“The staff are brilliant and I can’t knock the treatment – it could just do with tarting up. A bit of brightness just makes people feel better.

“All the changes are a very good idea, and I especially take my hat off to the girls doing the commando thing as I used to be a runner but I could never do that.”

John Barnes, aged 68 of Welford Road in Kingsthorpe, in Northampton, is also a regular after he was diagnosed with cancer of the oesophagus.

He said: “Every one of the nurses is an angel and it will be very beneficial for them to have better facilities to work with.

The only thing I would miss is the friendly atmosphere of the open suite. When you are there for hours you start chatting to each other and I made a lot of good friends there.”


More than 450 chemotherapy day case patients visit The Chemotherapy Suite each month in a room and department which, NHCF says “are in much need of alteration, refurbishment and improvement”. The proposed refurbishments include careful use of design, lighting and colour, to transform the treatment area into a more welcoming and calming unit, while the new layout will offer more privacy to patients and practical working space for staff.

A spokesperson for the charity said: “We want to be able to improve the quality of the services that the chemotherapy unit offers to patients and their families to make a positive impact on their experience with the department. We know that raising the funds in the current climate is going to be a challenge but anyone who has had the experience of someone with cancer knows how important the changes to the chemotherapy suite are. It is with your help and support that we will be able to reach the target of £350,000 to make these improvements.”