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Blood Transfusion team

Making blood transfusions easier for cancer patients

From next month (June) Cancer patients using East Kent Hospitals’ Mobile Chemotherapy Unit (MCU) will be able to access blood transfusions in the vehicle – providing essential care closer to home. 

The MCU – which is paid for by the charity, ‘Hope for Tomorrow’ – operates in Deal, Folkestone and Herne Bay. Staffed by highly-trained chemotherapy nurses, the MCU ensures that many patients can avoid a trip to Kent & Canterbury hospital, but instead access care in their home towns. 

The blood transfusion project was initiated by Lead Chemotherapy Nurse, Tracey Rigden and Angela Green, Kent & Canterbury Head Biomedical Scientist for transfusions.  

Tracey said: “Every month, up to 150 patients living in some of the coastal towns use the unit for essential treatment and avoid having coming to Canterbury. 

“But some patients, depending on their condition, may require blood transfusions as part of their treatment. This is something that we haven’t been able to provide until now, because the process is complex and patient safety is paramount.”

Bringing the blood transfusions to the MCU has involved close cooperation between the chemotherapy team and the biomedical scientist team, combining knowledge and clinical expertise. 

Catherine Lorenzen, Kent & Canterbury hospital’s Chief Biomedical Scientist for blood transfusion, said: “We’ve been working with chemotherapy team to ensure that all blood transfusions taking place in the MCU operate to the highest standards. 

“Despite the complexity of the project, I’m very pleased that the team has managed to make this a reality, which is great news for our patients. Particular thanks go to Roese Spicer and Hannah Milton who have worked hard on bringing everything together.”  

Launched in 2013, the MCU is operated by East Kent Hospitals but owned and maintained by Hope for Tomorrow, and is named ‘Caron’, in memory of Gloria Hunniford's daughter Caron Keating, who sadly passed away from cancer. 

Patients using the MCU may receive treatment for any time period from 15 minutes to four hours. The unit that has four treatment chairs, a lavatory and small kitchen facility. 

I’m very pleased that the team has managed to make this a reality, which is great news for our patients.
Catherine Lorenzen, Kent & Canterbury hospital’s Chief Biomedical Scientist

And even though the MCU gives patients life-saving treatment, the nurses try to make the environment as non-clinical as possible. A ratio of one nurse to two patients operates at all times, making sure that those receiving chemotherapy have focused care and attention. 

“The patients love the unit,” said Tracey. “It makes life easier for them to have such a facility close to home.” 

She added: “Despite the clinical nature of the work we do, there is lot of laughter on the MCU, and the nurses have a good rapport with the patients. It’s a great atmosphere with a lovely set-up.

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