Around 400 more cancer patients a year will be able to have their treatment at home thanks to a further expansion of The Christie at Home service.
The drug Atezolizumab is used to treat some lung and breast cancer patients. Those Christie patients in need of this drug may now be eligible to receive it from the comfort of their own armchair. Patients currently travel to one of The Christie’s local treatment centres for this drug or to the Withington site in Manchester.
The Christie NHS Foundation Trust is one of Europe’s largest cancer centres and has pioneered treatments at home since 2015. The Christie now provides the most comprehensive range of drug treatments at home for cancer patients and treats more patients at home than any other cancer centre in the UK.
In 2017 to 18, The Christie at Home service provided 3,280 treatments in patients’ homes. This has risen to over 6,000 treatments in 2020 to 21 and is on course to be over 8,000 patient treatments by March 2022. Since establishing The Christie at Home service in 2015, over 28,000 patient treatments have been provided at home.
Retired Royal Mail HGV driver Ron Pearson (68) from Ashton-In-Makerfield is one of The Christie patients to benefit from having Atezolizumab at home. He was diagnosed with lung cancer in October 2020 and referred to The Christie where he has been treated with chemotherapy, radiotherapy and the immunotherapy drug Atezolizumab.
“I was actually diagnosed on my wife’s birthday,” he said. “I was very quickly referred to The Christie and I cannot fault them on everything they have done for me. The quality of care has been exceptional. Initially, I was told I might only live 2 or 3 months but that was almost a year ago.
“I need the Atezolizumab once every 4 weeks and I was spending at least 80 minutes a day travelling to and from The Christie in Withington for the treatment. And because of the COVID-19 pandemic, my wife had to stay in the car whilst I went in for treatment.
“When I was told a few weeks ago I could have the treatment at home, it was a huge relief. It’s so much more convenient, saving me time and the anxiety of the travel, the parking and the waiting.
“The treatment at home only takes about an hour, then I have the rest of the day to myself. The nurse was lovely and caring and we had a nice chat. And my wife was able to be with me during the treatment for the first time. The care was every bit as good as you get in the hospital, but the overall experience was much better.”
Ron is married to Jane and has 3 sons and 9 grandchildren. He enjoys taking regular walks in the local area.
Chemotherapy outreach manager Stephanie Hechter said: “Our patients really value this service and it has made a big difference during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many patients look forward to a visit from one of our friendly team of nurses and it saves them from making long journeys and waiting for treatment.”
Patient satisfaction with the service has grown steadily, from 86% who rated it as excellent in 2016 to 96% currently.
The Christie at Home service currently provides nine different drugs for patients with a range of different tumours including lung, breast, melanoma, renal and urology cancer. Patients usually become eligible for treatment at home after two treatments in a healthcare setting, unless they had an adverse reaction to the therapy.
Christie at Home nurses complete a thorough patient assessment over the telephone, ensuring patients are well and their blood results are satisfactory prior to a homecare visit.
Each Christie at Home nurse can typically treat around 7 patients each day requiring an injection, or 4 to 5 patients if they need an intravenous treatment. There are now 12 Christie at Home nurses, with further recruitment planned.
The Christie NHS Foundation Trust was the first specialist trust to be rated as ‘Outstanding’ twice (in 2016 and 2018) by the health regulator the Care Quality Commission (CQC). It referred to The Christie as ‘a leader in cancer care’ and ‘a pioneer in developing innovative solutions to cancer care.’ The CQC praised the Trust’s staff which it said ‘go the extra mile to meet the needs of patients and their families’ and that they were ‘exceptionally kind and caring.’ In 2017, the CQC rated The Christie as the best specialist trust in the country, and one of the top three trusts overall in England.