Chemo treatments set to double at St Richard’s Hospital

Cancer treatment for patients in the Chichester area has been given a boost with the launch of a new all-day clinic at St Richard’s Hospital.

The number of patients receiving chemotherapy at the hospital is set to double with the new session, which will deliver up to 22 extra treatments every week.

Before the new clinic at St Richard’s Fernhurst Clinic, which kicks off in May, local patients faced a journey to Portsmouth to receive the vital care.

“This extra service will allow us to move from delivering about 80 chemotherapy treatments a month, to about 160 treatments, and the patients will receive this care in a superb facility, near to where they live.

“It is good news for our trust, and absolutely great news for our patients,” said Clare Dikken, lead nurse for cancer services.

“Patients who need chemotherapy want to know they are getting the very best possible care, in the most convenient place.”

The Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs St Richard’s as well as Worthing and Southlands hospitals, increased the range of treatments delivered by staff at the oncology unit in October when breast cancer patients became able to receive Herceptin there for the first time.

Health bosses said the new development, part of the ongoing push to widen the range of cancer treatments available in Chichester, said the second all-day chemotherapy clinic had been made possible because of co-operation between the cancer teams at the trust and their neighbours at Portsmouth Hospitals Trust.

Amanda Nash, from Bognor Regis, is one of those receiving treatment at Fernhurst Centre and she said the move would make ‘a world of difference’ to her – as well as saving her a long journey to Hampshire.

“I was one of the first patients on Herceptin to transfer from Portsmouth to the Fernhurst Centre – I now only have to travel six miles from Bognor Regis.

“New guidelines mean the infusion time has been lowered to half an hour, so the whole hospital experience is less than two hours, every three weeks, instead of more than four hours and a 50-mile round trip,” she said.

Staff at the Fernhurst Centre, which opened in September 2009 after singer Michael Ball helped cut the turf in a ceremony in 2008, provide a wide variety of treatments for haematology and oncology patients.

The centre itself was built as a result of the huge efforts of countless individuals, charities and other groups, who together raised a total of £4.1m.

Among the major donors to the appeal were Macmillan Cancer Support, the Woodger Trust, the Friends of Chichester Hospitals, and the late Ben and Barbara Benjamin, from Bognor Regis, who left a legacy of £400,000.

Phillip Barnes, the trust’s medical director, said: “Building high-quality cancer services, with highly specialised staff, is not easy but everyone involved has worked hard to deliver this major improvement for local patients.

“Our long-term aim is to extend the services we offer cancer patients, and this is a significant step towards that goal.”