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Nurses take the lead in cancer medical day unit

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A new £5m nurse led unit is hoping to drastically reduce the length of stay for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy in a London hospital.

The Royal Marsden Foundation Trust opened its ambulatory care centre last week. It aims to put cancer nurse specialists at the forefront of care.

The centre brings together a medical day unit where patients receive chemotherapy and a clinical assessment unit for patients who become seriously unwell, either in the day unit or elsewhere in the hospital.

Clinical nurse director Justine Hofland told Nursing Times: “Nurses are taking the lead in both these units - it’s a great opportunity for nurses and it is so much quicker for patients.

“Already, we have had a lady who would have had to stay in for between three and five days for ascites draining who was able to come in and have it done in the unit and go home the same day.”

Specialist nurses, trained in prescribing and advance assessment, will handle most of the consultations in the day unit and carry out ultrasound and ascites draining.

Consultant medical oncologist Sanjay Popat said: “A lot of these things don’t need to be done by physicians.

“It means the doctors can spend more of their time on more complex patients. They will still see other patients but at different times, such as when key decisions need to be made.”

The centre has its own pharmacy and ultrasound facilities, so patients who would previously have had to visit different parts of the hospital can receive these services in the same place.

Ms Hofland said: “We went to lots of different places and looked at lots of models and there was nowhere where these facilities are all together. It is unique in that sense.”

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