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NGS Macmillan Unit makes the Royal proud

The Chesterfield Royal Hospital’s new NGS Macmillan Unit is continuing to welcome patients following its completion in June 2017.

The state of the art building, which brings many of the Trust’s cancer outpatient services together under one roof, saw a phased migration of services over the past two months which started with the movement of the chemotherapy service from the old Cavendish Suite. Now that all of the services have moved over, the unit is offering a range of treatments and clinics as well as a wealth of help and support from the Macmillan Information and Support Centre, just to the left of the unit’s entrance.

“Incredible for our patients and staff”

Carly Starkey is the matron for chemotherapy service, she said: “Compared to the old unit, which could become very cramped very quickly in terms of space, this new facility is incredible for our patients and staff. There is so much natural light thanks to the huge window space and we’ve had a lot of comments from our patients about the view across the countryside.

“It makes for a much more relaxing environment for our patients and we have more room to set up the various different treatments without disrupting those already receiving theirs. The chairs we’ve brought in are state of the art as well, our patients were involved in choosing the ones that were the most comfortable, are fully adjustable to suit the individual and we have retractable screens for increased privacy and dignity. We now have the ability to provide more treatments for more patients in a more comfortable environment which is fantastic for the people of North Derbyshire.”

Services that have been built into the unit include Haematology, Oncology, Acute Oncology Service, Chemotherapy, selected Medical Day Case activity, Palliative Care and Respiratory Clinics. The unit now has 21 treatment chairs, two treatment beds and three treatment rooms for chemotherapy patients compared to the eight chairs in the old Cavendish Suite which more than triples the capacity for treatment.

“A unit to be proud of”

Dr Roger Start is the Lead Cancer Clinician and has led the project from the very beginning, he said: “We needed to do something to address the growing demand for cancer services. Statistics show that one in every two people born after 1960 will develop cancer within their lifetime which is an astonishing statistic. We’re living longer, which is a testament to the advancement of medical and clinical knowledge, but it means that our chance of receiving a cancer diagnosis has increased.

“Whilst we know from what our patients tell us that the service we provide is a good one, the environment within which that service was delivered was becoming increasingly desperate for space and a little tired. In our Haematology clinics for example there were no windows in the waiting area which meant no natural light. It was cramped and not at all conducive to the kind of environment we wanted to create for our patients who were likely to be anxious and afraid of what their appointment may tell them.

“What we have now is a unit that we can be proud which provides exactly that kind of space, natural light and relaxing environment to complement the exceptional care and treatment that our services can provide.

“It was always our intention to build a unit for the treatment of cancer but with the help of Macmillan and the National Garden Scheme we have been able to turn what would have been an ordinary building into an extraordinary one. Thanks to the two and a half million pounds raised through Macmillan’s campaign we have a building we can be proud of and I’d like to thank everybody who baked cakes, pushed beds, shaved heads and ran, walked and cycled thousands of miles for making this possible.”

Incredible input from fundraisers

The unit, designed by architects The Manser Practice and built by contractors Vinci Construction, was complemented by a £2.5million fundraising campaign led by Macmillan Cancer Support in partnership with the Royal. That target was achieved, thanks in no small part to a magnificent £1.5million donation from the National Garden Scheme (NGS), a gesture recognised in the naming of the NGS Macmillan Unit.

Elaine Wilson, Macmillan Strategic Partnership Manager for The East Midlands, said: “We recognise the long-term impact that cancer can have on peoples’ lives and the need to plan better services and develop more personalised care.

“The opening of the state-of-the-art NGS Macmillan Unit is a significant step in the type of care we strive to offer and signifies a continued partnership between Macmillan Cancer Support and Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. Both organisations are committed to working together to ensure the services offered are tailored to the needs of people living with cancer in North Derbyshire and will continue to develop this further.

“However, the scope of this fantastic build has only been made possible by the incredible support from the National Garden Scheme (NGS) and the generosity of local people and I would like to personally offer my thanks for this help.”

George Plumptre, Chief Executive at the National Garden Scheme said, “The National Garden Scheme and Macmillan Cancer Support have been working in partnership for over 30 years. We are proud to have contributed £1.5 million to the NGS Macmillan Unit which is set to provide vital support for more people living with cancer in North Derbyshire. I would like to thank all of our garden owners who open their gardens to help support much needed projects like this one.”