Concerns raised about chemotherapy service for Redbridge, Havering and Barking and Dagenham patients

Cancer patients in a chemotherapy ward. Picture: Johnny Green

Cancer patients in a chemotherapy ward. Picture: Johnny Green - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

A watchdog has raised concerns about chemotherapy services at Barking and Dagenham, Havering and Redbridge University Trust (BHRUT).

The treatment location was changed in October 2018 without formal consultation and only Queen’s Hospital, Rom Valley Way, Romford administers the procedure in the tri-borough area.

Healthwatch conducted a patient survey to look at the impact of the move and found that while chemotherapy users felt that the staff were “welcoming” “amazing” and “caring”, points were raised about lack of privacy, longer waiting times and “serious concerns” about the level of care received if a patient had to attend an urgent or emergency care visit.

Richard Vann, officer at Healthwatch Barking & Dagenham, said: “There should be systems in place for patients being treated for cancer that are attending an emergency and urgent care services, to make sure they are identified quickly and not left in circumstances that could further put their health at risk.’

Ian Buckmaster, executive director at Healthwatch Havering added: “We were concerned to learn about the problems experienced by these patients when they have to seek treatment for unrelated conditions in the emergency department.

“We are pressing the authorities at Queen’s Hospital to ensure that improvements are made to their systems to ensure that patients undergoing treatment for cancer are promptly identified and not put at additional risk.”

Cathy Turland, chief executive at Healthwatch Redbridge’ commented on the survey and said there were both negatives and positives to be drawn from the consultation.

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“Although patients and carers felt the staff were amazing, they were equally concerned that there was clearly a failure to provide safe and supportive treatments,” she said.

A spokesman for BHURT said the oncology department at Queen’s is one of the “most advanced and high performing” departments in the south-east.

Dr Sherif Raouf, divisional director, cancer and clinical support, said he is pleased that patients were positive about the care it provided and the less positive feedback will help shape future services.

“To hear our teams and volunteers being described as ‘amazing, caring, professional and brilliant’ was very gratifying,” he said.

“We always welcome feedback as it helps us continue to improve and refine our services.

“We’re pleased that some patients have highlighted ways we can improve care for cancer patients who come to our emergency departments, and we will work with colleagues and patients to improve everyone’s understanding about their needs.”