Hospital stops chemotherapy due to nurse shortage

Barking, Havering and Redbridge University hospitals NHS Trust will stop providing chemotherapy at one of its hospitals because it has too few specialist cancer nurses to staff the unit.

The Cedar Centre at Ilford’s King George Hospital will cease provision from 12 November after four of its nurses quit and two others have gone on maternity leave. Moving forward, patients will have to go to Queen’s hospital in nearby Romford instead.

With more than 500 patients a year receiving their cancer treatment at the Cedar Centre, Macmillan Cancer Support is among a number of organisations criticising the decision, saying the move was ‘hugely concerning’ and a stark example of the ‘extreme workforce pressure’ at NHS cancer services.

The trust claims it had been planning to centralise chemotherapy services in Romford, with Chris Bown, the trust’s interim chief executive, reporting that it had simply accelerated the move when it found it could not replace the four nurses who are leaving.

Tom Sandford, the Royal College of Nursing’s England director, said: “The loss of the chemotherapy service at the Cedar Centre is a serious blow to patient care at a time when the government’s referral target for urgent cancer treatment has not been met for five years. The fact a specialist unit such as this has been forced to close its doors to people needing chemotherapy is the starkest evidence yet that the nurse staffing crisis is jeopardising safe patient care, with almost 42,000 nurse vacancies in England alone.”

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