The Mouth – Bournemouth – Poole – Christchurch

Cancer and end-of-life care – The big ask

Dorset County Hospital prince

Dorset County Hospital prince

Dorset’s healthcare organisations joined forces to launch the big ask survey in June, giving local residents the chance to have their say on health care across the county.

A key area of care in Dorset is cancer and end-of-life care, which is one of Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group’s six clinical priorities.

Poole Hospital is home to the Dorset Cancer Centre – a major specialist cancer treatment centre for adults in the county – which provides a wide range of treatments including radiotherapy and chemotherapy for both common and rare cancers.

The centre has two inpatient wards as well as a day care unit, and is kitted out with some of the latest technology for treating cancer.

Earlier this year the hospital’s prostate cancer patients were the first in Dorset to benefit from new radiotherapy technology. Image Guided Radiotherapy (IGRT) pinpoints the position of a tumour within patients immediately prior to treatment and Intensity Modulated Arc Therapy (IMAT) allows dose distribution to be shaped to cover the tumour, meaning higher doses can be given more accurately in a faster time.

Mike Bayne, clinical director for oncology services at Poole Hospital, said. “For the first time in Dorset we can deliver precision radiation therapy treatments two to eight times faster than traditional methods. By leaving less time for tumour motion during dose delivery, the radiation dose can concentrate on doing what it does best – killing cancer cells.”

Poole Hospital also provides end-of-life care to patients at Forest Holme Hospice, which is currently undergoing a major redevelopment to enhance the patient environment.
The Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch hospitals provide a range of inpatient and community services for patients with cancer and those who are at the end of their life.

At Christchurch Hospital, staff in the Macmillan Unit provide holistic care to patients with conditions that are no longer curable. As well as inpatient and day care, the unit’s Community Team supports 250-300 patients across the Dorset area, supporting patients with the desire to receive care and spend the end of their life at home. Where possible, services available in the unit are made available in patients’ homes, including holistic treatments such as aromatherapy and reflexology. Community care is provided seven days a week, by a team of seven nurses across a wide area around Christchurch, from Westbourne to Barton-on-Sea and New Milton and up to Ringwood and Cranborne Chase.

Heather Rogers, Senior Clinical Leader at the Macmillan Unit said: “Our community care is mainly symptom and pain control, but we try to improve other problems that are making their lives difficult. Our team is there not just to help the patient, but their family as well and we have strong links with many other community organisations, so we are able to signpost patients to services that we might not offer directly. Our physiotherapist and occupational therapist can help with mobility problems and adapting the home environment to accommodate their needs and some of our nursing team can also issue prescriptions.

“We want to be able to support patients with their preferred place of care and their preferred place to die. If a patient wants to spend their last days at home, we should be able to honour that with all the services that we can, or we should have a Plan B that is equally suitable.”

In west Dorset, Dorset County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has been focusing on further improving the care and facilities for cancer patients over the past year.

A new cancer ward was officially opened by His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales last year. Fortuneswell Ward is a 14-bed adult inpatient ward specifically developed for the care of patients who have cancer and malignant haematology disease. A dedicated team of nurses and other health professionals have the expertise and experience to offer exceptional care to patients.

The trust is also ensuring that patients nearing the end of their lives are offered the very best care and support, joining together with Weldmar Hospicecare Trust to establish ‘end-of-life care champions.’

Weldmar is running a programme of training days for nurses and healthcare assistants which equips them with the knowledge and skills to ensure patients and their families have the best experience possible.

If you would like to share your views about these services, or any of the healthcare services in Dorset, please take part in The big ask survey which can be completed online at

Paper copies can be requested from Ehren Milner at the Market Research Group on 01202 961379 or The survey closes on Monday 9 September

1 Comment for “Cancer and end-of-life care – The big ask”

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