14:48 Monday 13 May 2013  Written by SUE WEBB

Lister to get £2.9m Macmillan cancer care centre

Cancer care for patients at Lister Hospital will be transformed under plans approved for a new £2.9 million Macmillan cancer centre to be managed by the East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust.

A planning application approved by Stevenage Council reveals plans to bring the vast majority of the hospital’s cancer services under one roof, a proposal to nearly double the Lister’s chemotherapy capacity, dramatically reduce the cramped conditions for patients and staff, create a dedicated information and support centre for patients and families, as well as developing two gardens for patients to relax in while undergoing treatment.

The Lister serves the 1,500 people diagnosed with cancer every year across East and North Hertfordshire, along with the further 10,000 people are already living with cancer in the region.

The Lister Macmillan Cancer Centre will also provide consistent access to a team of Macmillan welfare benefits advisors who can help patients with their financial worries; a greater number of consultation rooms to allow patients more privacy and more working areas for Lister nurses and other clinical staff to prepare drugs, improving efficiency and reducing waiting times

Liz Lees, Macmillan nursing service manager for cancer at the Lister, said: “We have an award-winning team here at the Lister, but there is no denying that our current facilities for cancer outpatient and chemotherapy treatment are cramped and unsuitable to meet future demand.”

Patient Tracey Oliver, 38, who was diagnosed with breast cancer six years ago, is a regular visitor to Lister for treatment.

“The waiting area is too small. There are always a few people standing. I’m usually there two or three hours in total. They definitely need more space – it’s too cramped.”

Breast cancer patient Liz Cooper, 58, added: “A little more privacy to talk to staff would help. Somewhere a bit more private because you often have to discuss your condition in the waiting room. Such things can make a huge difference.”

Macmillan will be providing expert advice on the design and layout of the centre, as well as ensuring it is well-funded.

Gwyneth Tyler, Macmillan Cancer Support’s senior development manager for East and North Hertfordshire, said: “Cancer patients are living so much longer after their diagnosis than they did 30 years ago, which is fantastic news. But cancer is the toughest fight most of us will ever face and no one should face it alone. More people living with cancer means we need to plan better services and develop more personalised care for people.

“We are delighted to be working with the East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust to develop a state-of-the-art cancer centre that will continue to deliver the best possible cancer care to the heart of the community and ensure that patients are not facing cancer alone.”

Jimmy Dawson, chair of the Stevenage & District Macmillan Fundraising Committee, who was treated for bowel cancer at Lister, added: “This new cancer centre is a wonderful thing for local people who will be enormously fortunate to have this facility.

“People will be so glad for its provision and its services. After all, cancer is both physically and mentally one of the biggest challenges of your life.”

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