Mobile cancer unit celebrates first anniversary

A service that has brought cancer care closer to people’s homes is celebrating its first anniversary next month.

The Mobile Cancer Care Unit (MCCU) hit the roads of Norfolk and Waveney last year, thanks to an innovative partnership between the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and cancer charity Hope for Tomorrow.

Since its launch, more than 1,000 patients have been treated in the mobile unit in Attleborough, Beccles, Dereham and Fakenham.

The mobile unit and Nurses’ Support Vehicle (NSV) is owned and maintained by Hope for Tomorrow and the NNUH staffing costs are covered by the Norfolk and Norwich Hospitals Charity for the first three years. The vehicle has space for four recliner treatment chairs, infusion pumps, a kitchen area and patient toilet.

A celebration event will take place outside the Colney Centre at NNUH on Monday 9 May between 2pm and 4pm.

Joanna Richardson, Lead Cancer Nurse at NNUH, said: “We are delighted to celebrate the anniversary of Amara, our MCCU, which has already made a huge difference to patients’ lives. Starting the service through Covid-19 gave us many challenges including restricting the number of chairs in use for social distancing, enhanced infection control procedures and maintaining staffing levels. This has provided local services to patients during a time of great anxiety and disruption, enabling them to continue their cancer treatment in a safe environment.

“It has been a fantastic achievement with huge enthusiasm from the nurses and clinicians. It enables the teams to work in a variety of settings, adapting skills and experience but most importantly meeting their patient needs and offering a first-class service.”

NNUH is the biggest cancer centre in the East of England and the Weybourne Day Unit carries out more than 20,000 chemotherapy and other cancer treatments a year.

In 2019, anticipating the increase in demand for chemotherapy, we partnered with Hope for Tomorrow who have been working with the NHS since 2007. The vison of the charity is to support patients who are going through cancer treatment by alleviating the stresses and strains of travelling for appointments, along with supporting NHS trusts in reducing hospital waiting times. This fits with the NNUH five-year cancer strategy and long-term plan to bring care closer to home.

We undertook a postcode mapping exercise to identify four possible locations for the Mobile Cancer Care Unit, which were identified as being more than 20 minutes travel from the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and identified supermarkets at Attleborough, Beccles, Dereham and Fakenham who all had large car parks, café, and toilet facilities, and were very keen to support their community.

Tina Seymour, CEO for Hope for Tomorrow, said: “We are really proud to have been able to provide a Mobile Cancer Care Unit to NNUH and to enable their amazing team to take their cancer care into the heart of their communities. We look forward to working with them for many years to continue this incredible service.”

John Paul Garside, Charity Director for NNUH, added: “We are delighted to have provide funding from a legacy received by the charity to support the Mobile Cancer Care Unit, which has funded staffing costs and clinical equipment. Working in conjunction with Hope for Tomorrow means that the N&N Hospitals Charity is at the heart of helping to be part of improving facilities for cancer patients across Norfolk.”

Notes to editors

Media interested in covering the anniversary event or carrying out interviews are advised to contact in advance