Cancer treatment centre is part of new hospital plan

A DEDICATED cancer treatment centre will become a reality as part of the Hampshire Together: Modernising our Hospitals and Health Services programme.

And the ambition is to go further – not only building a new centre, but placing it at the heart of an improved network of care across the area, giving people high-quality support whether they are being diagnosed, treated, or supported in the often lengthy process of physical and mental recovery.

Improved facilities for people with cancer has been on the wishlist for the people of north and mid Hampshire for several years, with people in the area raising more than £2million towards providing just this through Ark Cancer Centre Charity.

Providing a supportive and holistic environment for patients undergoing treatments such as radiotherapy and chemotherapy will be included in the plans for a new hospital, something that Philippa Aslet, lead cancer nurse at Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, is delighted about.

“I’m so excited about the prospect of a dedicated cancer centre,” she said. “It will enable us to pull together all of the aspects of cancer care, including specialist nurses and psycho-social support, in an environment designed to improve wellbeing.

“Our vision is to create a fantastic environment that people are happy to travel a bit further to use, while also being able to offer some treatments either in or close to patients’ homes if they would prefer that.

“This model of care has been shown to work during the COVID-19 crisis. One of the steps we took to protect potentially vulnerable patients has been to move all chemotherapy to a private hospital in Winchester. For some this meant increased journey times, but most people prefer a less clinical environment and say they are willing to travel further to experience it.

“Hampshire Together also gives us an amazing opportunity to empower patients to live with and beyond cancer. We want to use digital technology and work more closely with our GP colleagues to reduce the number of hospital appointments that patients need to attend, while still providing the same level of care.”

Dr Charlotte Hutchings, GP and North Hampshire CCG Cancer lead, said: “The Hampshire Together project gives us an amazing opportunity to look at local cancer care afresh. Of course we need the best possible hospital treatments, and the new cancer centre will be a brilliant, invaluable asset to help deliver that, but anyone who has lived with cancer will know that many other things matter, too.

“Enabling people to seek help at an early stage, for example, is fundamentally important - earlier diagnosis can save lives, so access to screening services and investigations is vital. Giving people brilliant medical care after the acute hospital treatment is over is essential as well, and we recognise the absolute importance of mental and emotional support – both for patients and those around them – during treatment and often for a long time afterwards.

“That means looking at how we bring together cancer care in hospitals, in community services, in primary care, and within the voluntary and charity sector. It also means hearing from people who have lived through a cancer experience, to learn what matters most to them. I would urge everyone to get in touch to let us know their views on how we can make local cancer care better.”

The Hampshire Together: Modernising our Hospitals and Health Services programme involves NHS and social care providers across Alton, Andover, Basingstoke, Eastleigh, Winchester and the surrounding areas. It is being led by the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Partnership of Clinical Commissioning Groups, Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and West Hampshire Clinical Commissioning Group.

The programme includes the construction of a brand new hospital – but its impact will reach far beyond the walls of this new building, involving GPs, mental health, community care, social care and the wider voluntary sector, as well as acute hospital care.

As part of the Hampshire Together programme, people across north and mid Hampshire are currently being asked for their views on the way health services are provided in the area now and in the future.

You can hear more about the opportunities that the programme provides for cancer care, as well as having your say, during a special online engagement event taking place at 11am on Saturday 18 July. If you would like to take part you can register by visiting www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/109854030362.

More information about Hampshire Together, including details of all upcoming events, and an online comment form can be found at www.hampshiretogether.nhs.uk. You can also find Hampshire Together on Twitter (www.twitter.com/HampshireMOHHS) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/hampshiretogether).

If you would like to receive the listening document and a comment form by post, write to the programme at FREEPOST Hampshire Together (no stamp required) with your name and address.

Picture caption:

(left to right) Philippa Aslet, lead cancer nurse and associate director of nursing at HHFT, and Holly Hall, radiotherapy services manager, in what will become the well-being centre therapy room for cancer patients.