Patients get vital tests safely and closer to home ahead of life-saving chemo

Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, cancer patients being cared for by Guy’s and St Thomas’ are now getting essential tests closer to where they live before life-saving chemotherapy.

Hospital paramedic standing at the back of an ambulance with one door open, showing the equipment inside
Georgia Hornsby, Acting Sister, Chemotherapy, outside one of the mobile treatment centres

A new mobile cancer service, delivered in partnership with St John Ambulance, has been set up to minimise potential exposure to the coronavirus for patients who may have a compromised immune system following treatment.

The service is provided across three St John Ambulance treatment centres, in car parks outside easily accessible locations such as supermarkets and pharmacies.

Hundreds of patients have already benefited from this initiative, which continues to see 15 to 20 people a day. Some patients have commented that the mobile centres make them feel much safer and protected from the virus.

Vital blood tests

Before cancer patients can undergo chemotherapy, they are required to have a blood test. This means that vital checks are carried out to ensure that the liver and kidneys are working well, and blood count levels are at the correct levels for treatment.

Nurses and phlebotomists (people trained to take blood from patients) from Guy’s Cancer Centre are now carrying out this essential test, and other procedures that need to be done 48 hours before chemotherapy, from the mobile cancer centres.

The treatment centres are currently located at Boots in Clapham Junction, Tesco superstore in Elephant and Castle and Waitrose car park in Beckenham.

Convenient and safe

Christine Harley, 76, from Beckenham, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in February and has had three rounds of chemotherapy at Guy's Cancer Centre.

Christine, a former radiographer, was given the option to have the blood tests at the mobile cancer service in Beckenham, ahead of her fourth round of chemotherapy. She said: "It was very quick and just the same as going to the cancer centre, except it's more convenient.

"My daughter or son usually take me up to London and it can take 45 minutes, with all the traffic even now - then after you wait a little, you get the test done. It can be all the morning or all afternoon.
"The mobile cancer service is a really good, positive idea, especially when you have weeks and months on this treatment. You are not bumping into different people or waiting around. I'd rather stay local than go up to London."

Dr Catherine Oakley, chemotherapy nurse consultant at Guy’s Cancer Centre, said: “Some cancer patients are at particular risk of COVID-19 and other infections due to a compromised immune system following treatment and chemotherapy.

“If there is anything we can do to minimise potential exposure to the disease by reducing the number of trips patients have to make to the cancer centre, on public transport, that has to be a good thing.

“Our mobile centres are safe and clean – patients can drive up and wait safely in their vehicle before we send them a text message to call them into the ambulance for their test.”

A big thank you to everyone who has donated to us and supported this vital service.

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