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Wednesday, 03 September 2014

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Dedicated cancer unit at Barrow hospital faces uncertain future

FURNESS General Hospital's dedicated oncology inpatient unit faces an uncertain future following an announcement by trust bosses.

Furness General Hospital currently has eight inpatient beds in the unit, which cares for those with cancer and opened in 2004 after a lengthy public fundraising campaign.

Today, after the Evening Mail received several calls from concerned staff members, the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust confirmed proposals for major changes to the service.

Dr Andrew Higham, UHMBT clinical director for elective medicine said: “Today, we have launched a consultation with staff over the relocation of Oncology and Haematology inpatient care within Furness General Hospital (FGH), to continue to improve patient safety
and access to medical intervention.

“I would like to make it clear, that this does not involve removing Oncology or haematology services from the hospital.

“Currently, we have an eight bedded inpatient ward within the Oncology Unit for those patients that are not well enough to go home or require overnight chemotherapy.

"On average, these beds are occupied less than 50 per cent of the time due to improved practices and planned discharges. With the introduction of the palliative care Rapid Discharge Plan being piloted throughout the trust and the appointment of a Palliative Care Consultant, it is envisaged that length of stay for some of our patients will be further reduced.

“The proposed changes will see Oncology and Haematology patients receiving inpatient care in a dedicated area on one of the acute medical wards at FGH.

"This will not in any way affect the treatment that these patients receive. The beds will remain isolated from other medical patients and they will continue to receive care from specialist Oncology and Haematology nurses.

“The Haematology and Oncology beds are currently situated some distance from the acute medical wards at FGH and there are concerns regarding ‘out of hours’ medical cover. A relocation of the Oncology beds would improve patient safety and access to medical intervention, not only for Oncology patients but also across the acute medical wards.

"Less time will be wasted by medical staff travelling between ward locations, and allow ‘out of hours’ medical cover to be more efficiently
centralised on the acute medical floor.

“Another advantage to relocating the Oncology and Haematology inpatients is that this will provide additional space and capacity in the current unit. For patients, this will mean we will be able to see more Haematology and Oncology patients in outpatient and day case appointments.

“The Oncology Unit at FGH is a fantastic unit and a large part of that is down to the dedication and support of the local public who raised funds to develop it, for which we are extremely grateful. I would like to reassure the public that we have no plans take away the unit they worked so hard to fund.

“We strive to ensure that all our patients are treated with the upmost privacy and dignity and these changes will not affect that. Our dedicated staff will continue to offer the same high standard of care to our Oncology and Haematology patients.

“We will continue to work with the affected staff and union colleagues throughout the process.”

Have your say

I have been having treatment in this unit for several years and more to come. To split this dedicated specialist oncology team is a folly that will come back to bite us all. The process has been hoisted onto the staff and patients without serious thought or consultation. If it's all about money then let's have a flatter management structure with responsibility being devolved down the line. Getting rid of some of the fat-cats will save more money than people could imagine and allow the recruitment of more front-line staff. It's about time we stood against this nonsense in the name of efficiency, because efficiency it is not.

Posted by George Burch on 28 March 2013 at 10:01

Thank goodness they Evening Mail is "bashing" the Trust. They talk about communication, honesty, transparency and consultation but that's all they do TALK. THEY DON'T ACTUALLY DO IT. Staff are being given a hard time by the "FATCATS" about contacting the Evening Mail. OKAY when your a Chief Nurse (another manager) earning £95,000 - £100,000 but the low-paid are having their hours,wages and jobs cut.

Posted by Go Evening Mail on 15 March 2013 at 15:34

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