Some cancer patients in Beds, Bucks and Herts could soon opt to give themselves chemo at home
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Some cancer patients in Beds, Bucks and Herts could be taught how to administer their own chemotherapy at home – so they no longer need to travel to hospital for treatment.
Currently most patients undergoing chemotherapy have to travel to a specialist hospital to have the drugs administered by a health professional.
But Mount Vernon Cancer Centre (MVCC) – which delivers cancer services to residents in areas such as Luton, Beds and Bucks as well as Herts – is to pilot a scheme where patients are taught how to administer it themselves.
Dozens of breast cancer patients have already been given the option of injecting doses of Trastuzumab and Pertuzumab into the layer of fat below the skin, as part of the hospital’s ‘chemotherapy at home’ project.
And in the next phase – due to roll-out next year – patients with a wider range of cancers will have the option of having ‘backpacks’ of chemo infusions delivered to their homes.
On Thursday (October 12) the programme was highlighted to members of Hertfordshire County Council’s health scrutiny committee.
Councillors heard the that the ‘backpack’ model was designed to give patients more freedom and a better quality of life.
And they were told patients wanting to go on holiday were even able to have the drugs delivered to them anywhere in the UK.
At the meeting Mount Vernon hospital director Sarah James said that to take part in the ‘chemotherapy at home’ option, patients would attend at least three training sessions.
And they would be provided with instructions and 24/7 contact details in case they have an adverse event or device failure.
Hospital director Sarah James said it would mean facilities at the busy hospital could be retained for those patients that needed them.
But it was stressed that any patient would still be able to opt to have the treatment at the hospital, if that was their preference.
Councillors were told patients taking part in the initial phases of the programme had already welcomed the reduction in hospital appointments and travelling.
And that’s crucial given that for most patients in Hertfordshire the trip to the Northwood-based Mount Vernon can be lengthy and difficult.
There are already plans to move Mount Vernon Cancer Care to a site adjacent to Watford General Hospital – and for an additional satellite radiotherapy site in either Luton or Stevenage.
But at the meeting Jessamy Kinghorn – head of partnerships and engagement from NHS England (East of England) – told councillors that no funding had yet been allocated to the new MVCC, expected to cost around £350m.
She said, no decision about the satellite site would be taken until a funding decision was made on MVCC’s move away from its current site.
But she told councillors that the centre was not ‘standing still waiting’ – but was trying to improve access for patients.
MVCC – which is run by the East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust – currently serves a population of two million people.