Patients with neuroendocrine tumours (NETs) in east Suffolk will no longer need to travel long distances for their care thanks to the expansion of a successful service at Colchester Hospital.
NET oncologist Dr Ellie Saunders, NET lead clinician Dr Mary McStay and NET oncologist Professor Bruce Sizer.
NETs are rare tumours that can affect any part of the body and for the past eight years, NET lead clinician Dr Mary McStay and NET clinical oncologist Professor Bruce Sizer, have been running a clinic for patients across Essex at Colchester Hospital.
In May it will be expanded to treat people in east Suffolk following the merger of Colchester and Ipswich hospitals to create East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT) in 2018.
Dr McStay, whose patients are also referred from Broomfield, Basildon and Southend hospitals, said:
We saw the merger as a chance to expand the service to patients in Suffolk and improve patient care across two sites, it’s really exciting. We know our patients’ time matters and we’re forming a new multi-disciplinary team group who will be able to see the patients more locally and avoid them having to travel for their care.
Dr Mary McStay and Dr Ellie Saunders are part of the NET team who will be treating Suffolk patients from May.
Because of the rarity of the tumours, which are not usually cancerous, patients have traditionally had to travel to London for treatment at the Royal Free Hospital, which is a European Centre of Excellence for NETs, as well as Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge and the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, in Norwich.
Now those patients will be able to be treated closer to home and additional clinicians will be joining the NET team to meet the extra demand. Thanks to advances in technology, they are getting better at diagnosing NETs and with new treatment patients can live longer too.
Prof Sizer said:
The increasing patient numbers means we can recruit and take part in national studies, making the newest treatments available to patients locally.
As part of the expansion plans, the number of patient clinics will double and the team is looking at changing the way patients in east Suffolk receive their medication so it can be given to them in their own homes, which already happens in Essex. This will mean a monthly visit to hospital can be avoided.
Dr McStay and Prof Sizer hope their clinical nurse specialists will also be able to extend a telephone follow up clinic to include patients across east Suffolk. It is already in place at Colchester Hospital and it will mean patients who are being monitored can discuss their condition over the phone rather than having to make the journey into hospital.
The NETs team, who also run a patient support group, includes:
- Lead Clinician: Dr Mary McStay.
- Oncologists: Professor Bruce Sizer, Dr Gopalakrishnan Srinivasan and Dr Ellie Saunders.
- Clinical nurse specialists: Karen Spurgeon and Karen Sheen.
- Surgeon: Mr Don Menzies.
- Endocrinologist: Dr Rob Skelly.
- Radiologists: Dr Mahmoud Rezk and Dr Nicola Lacey.
- Administrator: Jennie Lancaster-Jones.
- MDT Co-ordinator: Natalie Whitworth.