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Cancer treatment centre moves to a new home in Swansea’s Singleton Hospital

(l-r) Physician associate Rebecca Smith, unit manager Sue Rowland and service manager Kate Ashton in the new CDU.

A specialist centre for people receiving cancer treatment in Swansea has moved to a new home.

The Chemotherapy Day Unit, or CDU, at Singleton Hospital has been relocated to a former cardiology ward within the main hospital building.

Not only does this provide the potential to expand the service in future it means improved safety for patients, and many more benefits besides.

But while the CDU has its new home, it’s lacking a homely feel – so plans are being drawn up to make it look and feel warmer and more welcoming.

CDU manager Sue Rowland said: “One of the problems with the old building is that it did not give us any scope to expand. We were limited in the number of chemotherapy chairs we could have.

“Also, if patients became unwell, or arrived unwell, which sometimes does happen, we had to rely on the porters or a 999 ambulance to get them across to the main hospital building. That was obviously not ideal.”

Services across Swansea Bay’s main hospital sites are being reconfigured as part of the health board’s Changing for the Future programme.

This will see specialist care concentrated in one place, with the aim of developing a series of centres of excellence for different specialties.

Urgent and emergency care, specialist care and regional services are being concentrated in Morriston Hospital.

As urgent medical cases no longer go to Singleton, the hospital can repurpose the space this has freed up to become the centre of excellence for other services – including cancer care.

Sue Rowland in part of the new CDU. There are plans to make it look less clinical and more homely

The CDU, part of the South West Wales Cancer Centre, is now located in the former Ward 9.

“As we are now within the main hospital building it is much safer for patients,” said Sue.

“We are not reliant on anyone else if a patient becomes unwell. The doctors and consultants are that much closer to us now. We would still have to bleep them, but the response will be that much quicker.”

Other benefits include more space for nurses in clinical areas, a designated phlebotomy room, a private room for doctors to review and examine patients, along with improved storage facilities.

There are also longer-term proposals to increase the number of chemotherapy chairs, which currently number 13.

However, this will be dependent not just on funding but on the availability of key staff, particularly pharmacists.

In the meantime, the CDU team is looking at ways of making the relocated unit – which has stunning views across Swansea Bay – less like part of a hospital and give it a more welcoming feel.

“It’s very white and clinical at the moment so we want to paint it different colours to make the place more homely,” said Sue. “We also want some nice new flooring too.

“It’s something the patients have remarked on. When they were up at the old unit, they felt cocooned. They didn’t feel like they were ill as such because they were not in a hospital environment.

“One of the first things they commented here was that they feel like they are in a hospital now. They feel like patients. So we want to change that because it is very important psychologically.”

Meanwhile, plans are being drawn up to create a new outpatients suite in the former CDU, located at the top end of the Singleton site.

Service manager Kate Ashton said: “The relocation of CDU to Ward 9 is part of a series of moves within cancer services as our footprint expands, providing additional space for the services we provide on a template that ensures best patient care.

“We recognise that at present some of these areas are not ideal and we are working on improving these spaces to provide a warm, welcoming environment for our patients and their families.”