Our private tour of the new unit proved very popular prior to the November meeting. Twenty eight people arrived an hour before the meeting to be shown around by therapeutic radiographer Beccy Duffy. We were joined by Senior Urology Nurse Specialist Alison Gidlow who also wanted to see the unit. The tour was split in two halves so whilst one half was waiting they were able to make full use of the new furniture in the waiting area bought by the Eastbourne PCaSO group! Fundraisers old and new were keen to see the new facility and what the Eastbourne group had purchased. They were not disappointed. The verdict was that the chairs and sofas were comfortable seats, the right height for getting into and out of with relative ease and also pleasing to the eye unlike usual hospital seating. Beccy and colleague Raxa Ford were keen to get feedback and stressed the importance of finding out what patients think about the department and receiving radiotherapy treatment.
The tour included the new CT scanner, the consultation and changing rooms, an explanation of how the faster modern linear accelerators function to reduce time spent receiving therapy, and the central control room where the physicists check doses and alignment with the therapeutic radiographers.
Afterwards, many of the tour participants reconvened in the Postgraduate Centre to hear Dr Fiona Mckinna, consultant clinical oncologist and lead cancer clinician who has steered the radiotherapy project. With 42 people present, this was the largest single attendance at a PCaSO Eastbourne meeting to date. Despite the protracted time to finally opening the unit, Dr Mckinna was delighted to see the ‘linacs’ up and running and treating the first patients. She talked about the new Surrey and Sussex Cancer Alliance and the future location of radiotherapy services and other cancer treatment given the geographical footprint. She urged the audience to look at the current consultation on radiotherapy open until 18 December. See https://www.engage.england.nhs.uk/consultation/radiotherapy-service-specification-consultation/
The consultation follows on from NHS England’s plans for a £130 million investment to address aging radiotherapy machines and keep up with newer treatments.