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In an attempt to reduce treatment backlogs and hospital visits, thousands of NHS patients could be given intravenous cancer treatments in the comfort of their own living rooms.
Specialist nurses from The Christie Hospital in Manchester began offering breast cancer patients the option to have their chemotherapy treatments at home in 2016, after a successful three-month pilot scheme. Around 250 patients a day are already being treated with chemotherapy and immunotherapy at home. The scheme is such a success, that it is being rolled-out by other leading hospitals, such as The Royal Marsden Hospital in London.
Also, The Christie Hospital offers more than 25,000 chemotherapy and immunotherapy treatments each year from a mobile unit and regional clinics.
Patients are given their first two treatments in the clinic so they can be monitored by doctors for any potential complications. If given the all-clear, they can then decide to have the rest of their treatments at home. The drugs are delivered by a pharmacist and administered by specialist nurses who visit them in their own homes.
Up to 10,000 patients with breast, bowel, kidney, lung, prostate or melanoma skin cancer could benefit from the latest chemotherapy or immunotherapy treatments.
As a result of the COVID pandemic, hospitals have been forced to postpone or interrupt routine cancer treatments. Some patients have been offered alternative treatments until services return to normal, while others are facing long delays in receiving vital treatments. Clinics are also still limiting numbers in waiting rooms.
All of this has resulted in a backlog. Figures suggest there are 4.5 million patients waiting for hospital treatment. This new initiative could help reduce this backlog and ease the pressure on the NHS.