Gloria Hunniford is heading up a campaign to promote the delivery of localised NHS cancer treatment with the use of mobile cancer care units.
Gloria lost her daughter, Caron Keating, to breast cancer in 2004 and is a patron of charity Hope for Tomorrow, which provides the NHS with mobile cancer care units, including one which is based at the James Paget University Hospital.
The charity is launching its ‘Cuppa for Cancer Care’ initiative to coincide with World Cancer Day as an annual event to help fund the service which improves the life of cancer patients across the country.
Gloria said: “Cancer can take a terrible toll on individuals and their families. Travelling for repeated treatment is often difficult, stressful and time-consuming, for so many people. The mobile cancer care units and specialist NHS nurses drive out to patients’ communities rather than them having to travel to hospital. This makes a difficult time that much easier for them.”
Cuppa for Cancer Care takes place from 30 January to 5 February, around World Cancer Day, which is on 4 February 2023. The charity wants people from across the country to get together for tea, coffee and cake in aid of supporting mobile cancer care.
Gloria continued: “Patients regularly comment on how great the nurses and drivers are, with the team immediately making them comfortable and offering them a cup of tea or coffee. That’s where the idea of Cuppa for Cancer Care came from, and we hope that people across the country will get together for this wonderful cause. The mobile units are a fabulous asset in their communities.”
Inside, the units are just like hospital treatment rooms, with four treatment chairs, chemotherapy pump stands, and medical storage facilities. They are equipped with air conditioning and a cooling and heating system for patient comfort, as well as a toilet and kitchen. Eleven NHS trusts currently have mobile cancer care units and last year they provided over 26,000 treatments.
The James Paget launched its brand-new unit, called Jewel, in September this year, following a successful trial. The trust’s unit allows patients to be treated in Beccles, Lowestoft, Bradwell, Caister-on-Sea and Pakefield. Another unit, covering other areas of Norfolk, operates from the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.
James Paget University Hospital Chief Executive Joanne Segasby said:
“When Hope for Tomorrow’s new mobile cancer care unit was launched at our hospital just a few weeks ago, I met some of the patients who use the service - and was really moved to hear how it is making such a difference to them, by bringing their treatment closer to home. This is why we are so pleased to be working in partnership with the charity - and hope that local people support the Cuppa for Cancer Care campaign to help ensure that this excellent service continues in our communities for many years to come.”
Hope for Tomorrow’s latest patient feedback shows that, on average, for each treatment, patients save two-and-a-half hours, 20 travel miles, and £6 on parking. With treatment lasting several months and sometimes years, the time and financial savings can be considerable. Seventy-one percent of patients said they can tolerate their treatment more easily on a mobile cancer care unit, while 47% felt that they were more likely to complete their full course of treatment.
Tina Seymour, Hope for Tomorrow chief executive said:
“The mobile units allow cancer patients to have their treatment in a much more convenient way, taking away the disruption that long journeys can bring. They tell us that it makes a huge difference to them and they love the friendly atmosphere provided by the NHS staff and drivers. It costs £212 a day to keep a mobile cancer care unit on the road so fundraising is vital to keep the service going.”
Hope for Tomorrow was founded by Christine Mills MBE in December 2003. Christine had a very personal reason for wanting to establish mobile cancer care; her husband David suffered from cancer. The couple had to endure the stress and pain of regular 60-mile journeys to the oncology centre for his treatment. Christine also sadly died from cancer in September 2018.
Anyone interested in hosting an event, however big or small, should visit www.hopefortomorrow.org.uk/cuppa to sign up for a free fundraising pack.
Cuppa for Cancer Care is sponsored by Janes Pantry.
For more information on Hope for Tomorrow visit www.hopefortomorrow.org.uk