Chemotherapy launches in East Devon

Chemotherapy is now available in East Devon for the first time, thanks to funding from FORCE Cancer Charity.

Up until now, cancer patients have had to travel to Exeter for potentially life-saving treatment.

The new service is available to patients from across the East of the county every Friday between 9:30am and 3:30pm at Honiton Hospital.

Experienced nurses from the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital’s Cherrybrook chemotherapy unit will deliver the treatments.

Regular support

FORCE launched regular support and information sessions for anyone affected by cancer at Honiton Hospital in September.

The introduction of chemotherapy in the town completes an ambitious outreach programme for the Exeter-based charity.

Since its Trustees adopted proposals for outreach, FORCE has designated nearly £800,000 to improve accessibility to its services by taking them into the community.

It is a key element of the charity’s strategic plan to ensure that more people in the county receive the best available treatment and support as close to home as possible.

Specialist nurses

FORCE set aside money from a legacy to pay for specialist nurses from the RD&E to administer some of the more straightforward treatments to patients, saving them the journey to Wonford whenever possible.

The charity began funding a pilot outreach chemotherapy project at Tiverton Hospital in July 2017. The feedback from patients and nursing staff was so positive that it was rolled out as quickly as possible in Okehampton and now Honiton.

The benefits to patients include:

  • Treatment closer to home so less travelling time and expense
  • Easier parking
  • Quieter location and treatment area
  • Reduced waiting time for treatment, both in Honiton and Exeter
  • Experienced oncology staff from the hospital to deliver treatment
  • Access to additional FORCE services to support you and your family

Not all cancer patients will be eligible to receive chemotherapy treatments outside the RD&E’s main acute hospital site at Wonford. Consultants and chemotherapy nurses will discuss with patients and families whether they are suitable for community-based treatment.

Broadened access

FORCE plans to spend £186,000 on the next three years of funding for two full-time chemotherapy nursing posts. That will cover two days a week in Exeter and three in the FORCE@ outreach locations.

FORCE Chief Executive Meriel Fishwick said: “We are delighted to be able to support this important initiative, which broadens access to cancer support and treatment. We have already discovered in Tiverton and Okehampton that making these services available closer to home has a positive impact on people’s quality of life so we are thrilled to be in East Devon now too.”

FORCE has worked closely with the RD&E to make the new chemotherapy services more widely available.

Helen Daggar, Matron on the hospital’s Cherrybrook Day Case Chemotherapy Unit, said: “The service is run by the nursing teams from Exeter so patients receive the same levels of care from staff they already know and the staff also benefit by having a little more time with patients in this relaxed atmosphere.”

A grant of £9,000 from the Exeter Chiefs Foundation helped FORCE buy a new van for the secure transport of drugs.

  • Our picture (above) shows staff from the RD&E Cherrybrook chemotherapy unit who will deliver treatment to cancer patients at Honiton Hospital.