Present: several members of the Southend cancer support group, Maurice Newbold from the Colchester support group and me from Broomfield support group (Walnut Club); Southend hospital staff Louise Mciver (who arranged the meeting) Carly Ross (communications manager) Chris Cole (new service manager) and Ann French (Lead CNS). (Introductions were made too fast for me to note all details, so there may be errors here.)
Chris Cole outlined the progress that had been made in the introduction of the urology surgery service at Southend, taking over from that at Colchester, together with a flow chart of the revised prostate cancer treatment pathway, showing which activities were carried out by the patient’s local hospital and which by Southend. (While prostate cancer treatment is the primary activity, bladder, and kidney treatments are also handled.)
Detail was then provided by Ann French who went through in considerable detail. Two more CNSs are to be added to the current team, though this will take up to six months. There is a new ward, Southbourne, dedicated to urology patients. The Joint Multi-Disciplinary Team meetings (JMDT) will be hosted by Southend. Communication is important, so in addition to the JOCs (joint Oncology Clinics,) held locally, where patients have their treatment options discussed with them and rather than patient information leaflets, which easily go out of date as techniques and procedures change, videos will be made available to patients requiring more detail of procedures and/or reference to Prostate Cancer UK videos and other material available on the web – or in hardcopy form for those without internet access.
There are still some shortcomings in IT interoperability and the easy visibility of information between hospitals. While images are transferred easily these days, each hospital has its own SOMERSET system. Each is viewable by the others but they are not “joined up”.
Surgery will remain morning of admission, not the night before – which is expensive – except for brachytherapy. The NHS does not support travel or accommodation, though in cases of hardship Macmillan may be able to help.
Patient “passports” are to be provided so that patients as well as their GPs are given copies of their treatment detail and the support needed afterwards.
We were then taken to the new ward and met the ward sister. All was very bright, fresh and clean. Southbourne has 4 bays of 6 and a further 6 side rooms, so holding 30 in all. One bay is swappable between male and female patients if required. (This was an enormous improvement from my own experience 5 years or so ago!)
David Learmonth