New Cancer Unit a Warwick Hospital, Warwickshire Life

PUBLISHED: 23:57 07 February 2010 | UPDATED: 15:39 20 February 2013

New Cancer Unit, Warwick Hospital

New Cancer Unit, Warwick Hospital

A new Unit at Warwickshire Hospital has recently opened to provide improved county medical services to support cancer patients.

A new Unit at Warwickshire Hospital has recently opened to provide improved county medical services to support cancer patients. With the vision and foresight of a committee comprising of hospital staff, patients themselves and community fund raisers, and with the much valued guidance of Macmillan Cancer Support, the project was taken way beyond original expectations. Jennie Madden visits this impressive new facility.

A smart, new, single storey white building stands off Lakin Road, Warwick, its features outlined in red. With its distinctive rotunda entrance, this is the new home of cancer treatment services at Warwick Hospital, the Aylesford Unit. Inside, its spacious and light reception is smart and welcoming, with comfortable leather chairs and chrome and glass tables, a coffee bar at one end and an information zone to the side.

Walking in from a dedicated drop-off area and a convenient car park, free for those receiving treatment, patients check in at a modern, curved desk. Through double doors, an ample, state-of-the-art diagnostic and treatment suite offers privacy during consultation.

The hub of the unit is a chemotherapy treatment area with 12 chair bays and two beds, with a choice of company or solitude. Each bay has TV, DVD and internet access and large leather chairs with pressure relieving pads which allow patients to get in just the right position for their treatment - which on occasions can take as long as 12 hours. Added to this is a special quiet room reserved for patients and their families. It opens out on to a secluded courtyard garden which is prettily floodlight at night. From another side of the courtyard, the same garden offers a small, pleasant patio area off the staff room.

Some 1,000 people a year are diagnosed with cancer in South Warwickshire. That number is expected to rise by approximately 10 per cent each year.

Arden Cancer Network, the body responsible for shaping the policy for cancer services in Coventry, North & South Warwickshire, Redditch and Bromsgrove, reviewed the services in 2006. Whilst the area offered advanced procedures such as laparoscopic surgery for colorectal cancer and sentinel lymph node biopsies, it was felt a more comprehensive post-operative treatment area would be better equipped to complement them.

The choice of location was the University Hospital of Coventry and Warwickshire, the George Elliot Hospital in Nuneaton and Warwick Hospital. Minimising patient travel was a key issue as often patients felt too unwell to go far for their chemotherapy treatment. From this aspect, Warwick is ideal, being central to the area it serves. It is also run very efficiently both in clinical terms and financially.

The 1.3m development began but the original designs were soon put back on the drawing board following the smart intervention of two local ladies who voluntarily stepped in to start a fund-raising appeal. With enthusiasm and commitment, Gwen Jefferson, from Binton, and Jenny Farrell, from Preston Bagot, set themselves the ambitious target of raising 500,000 for the proposed unit and have just about reached that figure. Their impressive efforts have enabled the planning committee to upgrade the initial brief to provide a high standard in patient and consultant facilities and comfort that has wowed even the medics!

The charity, Macmillan Cancer Support, recognised that this development was something very significant in terms of facilities and were keen to help further by establishing a comprehensive information centre, not just for patients, but also for people that know someone with cancer and are looking for guidance. The "hub" holds a full library of information, together with internet access, the services of trained Macmillan staff and a counselling room for those wishing for privacy.

The building design committee took a steer from Macmilan whose experience in this aspect proved invaluable. They were keen, for example, that there should be extensive use of light, so large light-wells have been used and plenty of glass. On the staffing front, they felt strongly that each patient should have a very personal experience and that there was a comprehensive network of support readily available for them.

More useful advice was welcomed from patient representative Charles Flint who sadly died a few months ago whilst construction was still underway. Never hesitating to challenge the doctors in order to put forward a patient's point of view, his contribution became most significant.

This project is a wonderful example of how people can work together from different vantage points with sensitivity to put a truly caring service where it really matters.

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