Improving local cancer services

9th Mar 2016

Improving local cancer services

Questions and Answers March 2016

What is the update to cancer services provided at Sandwell & West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust?

University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHB, or known as the Queen Elizabeth Hospital) advised us in August 2015 that they have decided to cease providing visiting oncologists to City and Sandwell Hospitals from April 2016.  Since we were given notification we have been talking to patients and carers through meetings at the Trust and in the community to listen to people’s views. We have been working with local Trusts to ensure that high quality services are maintained on our sites.

We have successfully appointed new, high quality oncologists to work with us and are making joint appointments and partnership arrangements with other local Trusts including the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust. This means that we have created a more resilient service and have also managed to increase the services we are providing with the ability to provide 50% more clinics. We have agreed a transition arrangement with University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust up until June 2016.

Existing on site cancer services will remain and we are investing hundreds of thousands of pounds to achieve improved care across the range of cancer services that we provide.

At Sandwell & West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust, we are proud of our cancer services.  Our gynae-oncology service has the lowest mortality in the UK, our breast team have won awards for excellence and we have invested to ensure that we have seven day a week acute oncology presence on our sites.  In developing our cancer services further we have considered how we can provide consistent multi-disciplinary care, rapid access to clinics, and short waits for radiotherapy.

Where will cancer services be delivered?

At Sandwell & West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust we currently provide chemotherapy at Sandwell and City Hospital sites. This will continue and oncologists will continue to see patients in clinics to review their condition and treatment.

Radiotherapy services are not provided at Sandwell & West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust. Instead patients travel (currently to the               Queen Elizabeth Hospital) to receive this treatment. Through our new arrangements patients will visit other Trusts – the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and the Royal Wolverhampton Hospital – for radiotherapy.

Our chemotherapy service will change at City Hospital to match up with how chemotherapy services are provided at Sandwell Hospital so that you will be reviewed by a consultant oncologist or specialist nurse before you receive chemotherapy and the medicines will be made up for you to return to receive the treatment within 48 hours. These should limit waits for patients while the chemotherapy treatment is prepared.  Patients would not have to pay to park for this second visit.

What travel and transport arrangements are in place for patients?

We are setting up a number of travel and transport options for patients who need it if they can’t make their own way to the hospitals. We have arranged for free parking at the Royal Wolverhampton Hospital for patients and are looking at the potential for minibus transportation between Sandwell Hospital or City Hospital and Wolverhampton Hospital.

I have been with my consultant oncologist for a long time. Can I still be seen by them?

If patients want to still have continuity of care with the consultant that they are currently seen by, they would need to be seen at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital rather than at Sandwell or City Hospitals.

Where there is a change of consultant oncologist we will be writing to patients to inform them that they will be seeing a new oncologist. We will also make sure that patients can talk to a senior member of the cancer team if they would like to discuss the changes.

Will there be a safe handover between oncologists?

There will be no interruption to patient care throughout the transition and handover arrangements will be put in place.

What happens to the nursing and other staff that work at City and Sandwell Hospitals?

There is no change for any of the staff who are employed by Sandwell & West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust, which is everyone apart from the consultant oncologists. They will continue to work at City and Sandwell Hospitals as part of the cancer services team. The clinical nurse specialists will continue to care for their patients as they do currently.

I am on a drug trial. Will this be able to continue?

Our plan is to continue the treatment here for patients who are on a drug trial and whose consultant oncologist is not remaining at Sandwell & West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust. If necessary drug trial patients will stay with their current oncologist which may mean receiving their treatment at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. We will keep you informed of this situation. Sandwell & West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust is a centre of excellence for research and will be further developing our extensive range of clinical trials that patients can participate in.

Is this all about money?

Sandwell & West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust have invested substantially in Oncology services and the plans that we have in place mean an improved and expanded service for patients.

How does the new Midland Met hospital affect future plans for oncology services?

The new Midland Met Hospital will not have outpatient facilities and the chemotherapy units will remain at both the existing City and Sandwell sites.  However, patients who need to be admitted to hospital as inpatients and need acute oncology services will be treated at Midland Met.

In the future, where will patients go for in-patient treatment (i.e. surgery)?

The current arrangements for cancer surgery are not changing.  The surgery that we currently do within Sandwell & West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust (for example Breast) will continue. Surgery for some rarer cancers is currently treated at other centres and this will continue to be the case.

Will there continue to be an out of hours emergency helpline?

We are extending our helpline to all Sandwell and West Birmingham patients. This is led by our nurse specialists supported by oncologists. Patients will be given a card with an emergency number to call that is available 24/7, 365 days per year. Nurses will be able to provide advice and arrange admission if to the Trust if required.

Will there be improvements to the scanning facilities as it is causes anxiety waiting for results?

We are currently replacing our scanners and will have a new service contract in place from March 2016. Teams should have the results when they are needed and we have made changes to improve the reporting times. Patients on a cancer pathway have booking priority.

Are there any more patient meetings planned?

There are two further patient meetings that have been arranged. These are taking place as follows:

  • Thursday 17th March  2016, 9am – 10am, Anne Gibson Boardroom, City Hospital, Birmingham, B18 7QH.
  • Thursday 17th March  2016, 11am – 12noon, The Boardroom, Medical Education Centre, Sandwell Hospital, B71 4HJ.

To book a place please contact Jenny Donovan on 0121 507 2618. You are welcome to bring a relative or carer to accompany you.

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