A broader approach to supporting patients through chemotherapy treatment is being introduced at the Queen’s Centre, Castle Hill Hospital.
Patients receiving treatment for colorectal, upper GI and gynaecological cancers are already receiving consultations with different health professionals, and this approach will be rolled out to other cancer specialties over the course of the year.
This means that, at appropriate stages of their treatment, patients could meet with a specialist nurse or a pharmacist for example, rather than a consultant, and benefit from their additional knowledge and technical expertise.
Jan Hunter, Humber Lead Chemotherapy Nurse for Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust (pictured, right) says:
“Patients in receipt of chemotherapy have always been cared for by a range of health professionals, but they may not always have known this or had separate face to face appointments with them all.
“Our multi-disciplinary team (MDT) approach now means that, where it’s safe and appropriate to do so, patients could have their appointment with someone other than a doctor, such as a pharmacist or a clinical nurse specialist.
“As well as enabling patients to receive their appointments more quickly, in some cases it will actually be more appropriate for patients to meet with a different health professional. While the team is small, it’s made up of a number of highly skilled staff, many of whom have years if not decades of experience, and it can be really beneficial for patients to be able to tap directly into that.”
Like many others in the healthcare sector, the team has experienced its share of workforce issues but staff are confident that their high standard of care can be maintained. The new ‘consultant led, team delivered’ approach will be more holistic and will help to improve efficiency as health services continue to recover post-pandemic.
Consultant oncologists will continue to see patients at all key stages of their treatment, including first appointments, delivering test or scan results, before changing their treatment or starting a new round of chemotherapy. While some appointments need to be conducted in person, due to Covid precautions and the clinically vulnerable nature of the patient group, telephone clinics will continue for others.
Jan adds: “We know some patients may be worried about not seeing a doctor every time, or perhaps feel that if the doctor isn’t seeing them, then there’s no one looking after them, but that’s not the case at all.
“Patients remain under the care of a consultant at all times, and the wider team will make best use of their knowledge and skills to deliver that care and support patients through their chemotherapy journey.”
Around 1,900 patients from across the Humber and parts of North Yorkshire receive either intravenous or oral chemotherapy treatment through the Queen’s Centre at Castle Hill Hospital every month.