COPING with cancer can be a difficult time.
But a team of experts are helping to make it easier by setting up a service to give advice and support.
The acute oncology service is being run by the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust to assist cancer patients if they are brought into hospital.
Specialist oncology nurse practitioners Maggie Wright and Tracy Nugent join a team of oncologists led by consultant physician Dawn Ashley.
Tracy and Maggie have nearly 20 years experience between them working with patients who have been diagnosed with cancer.
Tracy said: “We’re here to look after patients who develop severe side affects after chemotherapy and patients who have cancer but need to come into hospital to be treated for other problems.”
The move follows national guidance from the National Chemotherapy Action Group and the Department of Health, which recommended all hospitals should provide acute oncology teams as part of the services.
Tracy added: “The service runs between 9am and 5pm from Monday to Friday. It means these patients can be seen by an expert within 24 hours of being admitted or, if they are admitted on a weekend, we will see them on the Monday.
“We’re providing support to the ward staff, raising awareness of these patients’ needs and expert advice for these patients when it’s needed, ultimately reducing the length of stay in hospital and reducing the risk of them being brought back into hospital.
“Patients can request to see us and the ward staff know to get in touch as soon as they need us.”
Even though it’s a new service, the response so far is positive, says the team.
“We’ve had a really positive response so far from colleagues on the wards, patients and their families,” said Tracy.
Consultant physician Dawn Ashley praised the two additions to her team.
She said: “Tracy’s and Maggie’s drive and enthusiasm is already making a difference to the quality of care we are providing for cancer patients.
“People affected by cancer deserve the highest quality treatment if they come into hospital for other reasons and this is what this national guidance is designed to achieve. Setting up this service was a priority for the trust.”