New chemo unit plans gather pace

Appeal tops �1m mark as new, detailed plans are revealed.

DETAILED plans for a new chemotherapy unit in North Devon are coming together as the appeal celebrates breaking the magical million-pound mark.

A year ago when the Chemotherapy Appeal was launched, building the new unit at North Devon District Hospital seemed a distant dream.

But after a Purple Day push last week the campaign is now astoundingly half way to its �2.2 million target.

Ian Roome, the appeal’s fundraising manager said: “It’s amazing that we have got this far, but we still need people to get behind the appeal and support us.

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“If we can raise enough money, I don’t see why we can’t start building this at some stage next year.

“We have 20-30 people coming through the chemotherapy unit a day at the moment and we just don’t have the space we need.”

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The new unit, which is likely to be next to the Accident & Emergency department, will give a considerably better layout and feeling of space compared to the current, small unit at the hospital.

An independent group, chaired by North Devon Cancer Care Centre Trust has been helping with the plans, including considering the views of patients previously treated in the unit.

In the autumn, the proposals will be put out to public consultation before being submitted as a planning application.

“One of the main issues raised by the past patients is that often there was no room to have a family member or friend to sit with them,” said directorate general manager Sharon Bates.

“In the new unit, we are hoping to have a big, open treatment room as well as smaller private ones, so patients can sit with their families and friends or be on their own if they wish.

“A lot of the patients here have also made friends with other people undergoing treatment, so they could request to sit together if they are in on the same day.

“We are planning to have big open windows along one of the walls and are looking at how we can landscape around the unit to create a nicer view.

“We have also discussed perhaps being able to provide holistic therapies to patients; the aim is to give us a much more flexible approach in how we use the space and how we can treat people.”

As well as providing a better experience during the chemotherapy treatment, the unit will offer patients a chance to tackle other problems resulting from their illness.

Mrs Bates said: “A lot of people suffer debt issues when they have cancer, and we will have more room for things like the a member of the Citizen’s Advice Bureaux to come and talk to patients.

“We want patients to be in a comfortable environment and if we can make what they are going through any easier then that is what we’re going to do.”

The next stage for the team is to finalise plans and then work out what equipment will be required to kit out the new unit once it is built.

“All good equipment will be moved to the new unit, and we need to identify if there is anything else we need to purchase,” said Mrs Bates.

Mr Roome added: “We still have a long way to go and we need everyone’s help and support to reach out target and make this happen.”

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