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North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust - 70 years of the NHS


Home > News > Specialist cancer clinic goes west

Specialist cancer clinic goes west

Posted on Monday 12th August 2013
Helen Roe

Consultant cancer nurse Helen Roe

A specialist clinic has been launched at West Cumberland Hospital for cancer patients who require cardiac monitoring.

Breast and upper gastric cancer patients receiving Herceptin treatment need to regularly undergo cardiac monitoring. This is because the drug can affect the pumping action of the heart, leading to possible heart failure if the symptoms are not managed.

Since early 2010 these patients have been treated at a specialist clinic at the Cumberland Infirmary, an innovative way of delivering joined up care between the oncology and cardiology departments. Now, since 31 July, this combined clinic, which was the first of its kind in the country, has been rolled out to include West Cumberland Hospital.

Consultant cancer nurse Helen Roe, who provides the service together with cardiac physiologists, explained: “These patients usually need to have their heart scanned every three months, although this may vary from patient to patient. This development means patients from West Cumbria are no longer required to undertake an 80-mile round trip to receive their cardiac monitoring and assessment.”

Patients are monitored in this way while being treated with Herceptin and for two years afterwards. The introduction of the Whitehaven clinic has been largely driven by the results of a patient satisfaction survey undertaken at the end of 2012 by Helen. The aim of this was to learn what patients thought of this treatment pathway, from the information they received prior to commencing Herceptin, throughout their treatment, monitoring and follow up.

The clinics have recently received national recognition as an example of a change in clinical practice which has a positive benefit for patients. It was praised for demonstrating quality, innovation, productivity and prevention, all of which are key components to providing a safe and effective service for patients.

Helen added: “We were also praised for demonstrating two very different clinical teams working together to provide a patient-focused service. Patients have their scan performed and see myself during the same visit, reducing the number of hospital visits.”

As a result of this recognition Helen has been asked to produce and publish an implementation document to share with other hospital trusts around the country to help them replicate this service within their organisations.

New developments in the way Herceptin will be administered in the future will mean that, rather than patients receiving it as an infusion and being hooked up to a drip for between 30 and 90 minutes, they may offered the drug as an injection. Patients are currently being consulted to see whether they would like to be offered this alternative in the future.

Helen said: “We are always really keen to listen to patient feedback and see if there is any way we can further improve the service we offer.”