September 23, 2008

Saturday Sessions Are Boosting Cancer Fight

By Madeleine Brindley Health Editor

A HOSPITAL'S Saturday clinics for women with breast cancer are proving a great success.

The innovative clinic at Velindre Cancer Centre has helped to boost capacity at the Cardiff hospital and reduce waiting times for patients.

It was developed for women with breast cancer after the anti- cancer drug Herceptin was approved for use on the NHS.

Cathy Barker, the integrated services manager and lead nurse at Velindre NHS Trust who pioneered the service, said: "Since the Saturday clinic on Rhosyn day unit opened in March 2007, we have been able to increase the number of treatments by 40%, enabling us to relieve capacity issues within the unit and of course providing a positive experience for our patients."

She added that as well as being more convenient for patients themselves - it is easier to park at the hospital on Saturday and their families are often able to accompany them - the weekend clinic has also benefited the cancer centre itself.

Staff have more time to talk to patients and to answer their questions because the clinic is not as busy as those held on weekdays. And it has helped to make a "positive difference" to the running of the Velindre's inpatient unit in terms of resources and meeting staff and patients' needs.

Janet Langdon, a grandmother of eight from Barry, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005.

The 65-year-old attended the Saturday clinic at Velindre regularly as she was put on a course of Herceptin and later involved in a clinical trial.

Mrs Langdon, a carer, is now taking a daily dose of the breast cancer drug Arimidex.

She said: "I was originally going to the hospital in the week but then they asked if I'd like to come in on a Saturday.

"It isn't so busy on a Saturday and was, more or less, just the people who were having Herceptin - you didn't have all the other people who were coming in for different treatments.

"It was terribly stressful when the week-day clinics were busy because you would have to wait if another patient came in as an emergency.

"But the Saturday clinics are always on time and the time you spend in there has also come down.

"There would be people coming in to the Saturday clinic, having their treatment and going on to do their shopping, knowing that they were going to be seen almost immediately."

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