Home medication service axed for cancer patients

Patients in south Essex suffering from cancer or serious illnesses have been told a service allowing medication to be administered at home is to be axed in a move branded “inhumane”.

In a letter to patients – seen by the LDRS – the Mid and South Essex NHS Trust said its “partner company” Pharmaxo “no longer has the capacity for the homecare service”.

The trust, which manages Southend, Basildon and Broomfield hospitals, said the administration of such drugs would be “moving back to the hospital” in the letter sent to patients.

Tricia Cowdrey, Residents First councillor for Southend’s Kursaal Ward, has herself battled cancer, and now faces long journeys for treatment.

She said: “I am told that this service is ceasing immediately and will affect more than 100 patients, many of whom, if not all, are cancer patients receiving long-term care on a regular basis.

“Personally I have been very lucky to benefit from this service, having treatment at home every three weeks. My next treatment is due next week.

“I have been offered an appointment at Broomfield Hospital. The alternative is to miss a cycle of treatment with no guarantee about the following one, or wait and hope there is a cancellation at Southend.

“The reasons given are that the hospital does not have capacity for these additional patients and the service itself can no longer recruit sufficient staff.”

Cllr Cowdrey added that it would take her “two buses” to get to Southend Hospital and she would have “no idea” how to get to Broomfield.

She added: “I want to thank all of the lovely nurses I have met over the past two years, for taking so much of the stress of receiving cancer treatment away.”

A spokesman for the Save Southend NHS campaign group, said: “We were shocked to discover this drastic change was being implemented so suddenly and affecting more than 100 seriously at risk patients.

“To expect them to make their own way, at their own risk and cost, to receive such vital treatment borders on inhumane. MSE managers and the board should apologise immediately and reinstate proper medical care in patients’ own homes.”

A spokesman for the Mid and South Essex Trust said: “Regrettably a homecare service that was working in partnership with the trust, to support a small number of patients receiving injections for cancer care, will no longer be able to offer this service as they no longer have capacity to deliver the service.

“The trust will provide a hybrid service enabling some patients to self-administer and some to be seen and supported in a dedicated nurse-led clinic.”

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Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter