Patients of Northwood’s Mount Vernon Cancer Centre (MVCC) have expressed their views on a horror report which said the centre isn’t fit for purpose.
A Clinical Advisory Panel commissioned by NHS England carried out an urgent review of MVCC; in which it said the building it’s located in is dangerous, its equipment nearly unusable and its staff too thinly spread to sufficiently look after patients.
The report, which urged East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust, who run the centre, to move MVCC to a new location, has cast doubt on the future of the centre as a whole. MVCC is located in Mount Vernon Hospital, which has been on Rickmansworth Road since 1904.
NORTHWOODnews spoke to Laura Burlingham, 39, who’s been a patient at the MVCC for two years having been diagnosed with cervical cancer.
She said: “When I first saw the report, I was really angry. I didn’t like how they’d worded things; they said the equipment there is all broken and that there wasn’t enough staff to look after the patients.
“I can only talk from my own experiences, which have been absolutely fantastic. The volunteers, members of staff, nurses, everyone who works there has been amazing with me. Yes, the odd machine may break down, but they simply move you to a different one.”
Asked to consider a future without MVCC, Laura added: “It would be a really dangerous loss for patients in Hertfordshire. There’s such a wide scope of people in Herts who use the centre who, like me, would really struggle to get into central London to have treatment.
“It is a bit of a rickety building, of course. But it just needs a bit of a general revamp. It’s a place that makes you feel surprisingly warm and at home; I don’t think it should be moved at all. There are plenty of people fundraising for it and giving it support – that’s all it needs.”
Dee Boyes, who had over 20 rounds of radiotherapy for breast cancer at the centre, added: “I can honestly say the waiting times were incredibly low, and the staff there are truly unbelievable and not just with the practical side of things.
“A lot of people there are understandably very scared and distressed; the way the staff deal with them is absolutely amazing. Regarding the building; yes, it’s very old. But that adds to the charm of the place. It’s strange, but there’s almost something romantic about it, which is really comforting at a time like that.”
The report, which was published in July, does acknowledge that the MVCC team continue to provide the best quality care they can under difficult circumstances.
NHS Trust CEO, Nick Carver said: “As a long serving provider of specialist cancer services, we know that patients, their carers and families, deserve no less than the most modern oncology care, comprehensive medical and surgical support services, including ITU. That’s why we warmly welcome the recommendations contained in the review.
“Patient safety and confidence is paramount for the Mount Vernon Cancer Centre and remains the trust’s key priority in planning for the future.
“This review quite rightly recognises the commitment of our staff to their patients; and that they continue to provide the best quality care possible for patients. We will do our very best to support our staff as this transition progresses. In addition, the panel noted that feedback from patients has been consistently positive over a long period of time.”
Photo courtesy of Laura Burlingham.