Guy’s Cancer in the era of Covid-19

Staff across Cancer Services are rapidly transferring to new ways of working in light of the coronavirus, in order to reduce patient visits to the hospitals, and to ensure patients and carers are kept up to date with vital information.

The Cancer Services Team are working to ensure that changes are implemented as quickly as possible, and to ensure that patient care in both the short and long term, for this shielded and immunosuppressed group, is fit for purpose and focused on individual need.

Staff across Cancer Services are rapidly transferring to new ways of working in light of the coronavirus, in order to reduce patient visits to the hospitals, and to ensure patients and carers are kept up to date with vital information.

The Cancer Services Team are working to ensure that changes are implemented as quickly as possible, and to ensure that patient care in both the short and long term, for this shielded and immunosuppressed group, is fit for purpose and focused on individual need.

Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity would like to highlight three projects that demonstrate this rapid adoption of new ways of working:

Project 1: Digital consultations

Moving to digital consultations for patients is now underway. Starting from a low base (pre-Covid-19) of less than 5% of consultations being carried out virtually, Cancer Services are now providing virtual clinic consultations to over 70% of patients attending follow-up consultations. This is on average 4355 consultations per month.

This is significantly reducing footfall in the Cancer Centre - improving safety and experience for new patients - on average 545 per month - who need to attend in person. This means staff can support these patients with social distancing measures, temperature checks and face masks.

In addition, staff now working with more virtual meetings and consultations, will require specialist IT equipment to help deliver this new approach. We are seeking to support this initiative with additional kit for staff working virtually. The impact of this investment will be widespread, as Outpatients is a large department with over 200 staff working there across the week, including over 100 doctors.

Project 2: Mobile cancer service

Guy’s and St Thomas’ is seeking to run a community outreach service, to bring services closer to home for patients and again reduce the need to travel into hospital, through a partnership with St. John’s Ambulance.

Starting with chemotherapy patients, a team of staff will trial the service for three months, reaching up to 75 patients per day. This will be achieved through five ambulances each taking nursing staff to two locations in the community to provide blood tests for up to 15 people per day / per ambulance.

Objectives of the project include developing ways of working with South East London (SEL) Cancer Alliance regarding the future of the service and developing a framework for evaluation. The team anticipate that they will soon be able to offer other services such as special catheter–administered chemotherapy, sub-cutaneous treatments and perhaps even short IV (intravenous) treatments.

The vast majority of patients will be from Guy’s and St Thomas’, however the service will also support some patients from King’s College Hospital and Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust LGT, as part of the SEL Cancer Alliance collaborative approach.

Project 3: Patient information support

While cancer patients are attending the hospital sites less frequently, clinical teams want to ensure that patients have the right help and information at this challenging time. To enable this, we will support the creation of patient information videos to deliver pre-consultation information in an accessible format that will also be useful and relevant for future services.

Oncology and Therapy services, amongst other teams, have requested this assistance to help patients manage their conditions and their symptoms at home. The patient information videos will target different groups of patients, depending on their information and support needs.

It is anticipated that a suite of resources will be developed over the coming months, and will be available to many of the approximately 300 patients, that visit the Cancer Centre every day.

"To all the wonderful staff who over many years have taken care of my mum when she had cancer and also my wife who has undergone invasive surgery so I have the utmost respect and appreciation for the work they do. Thank you all very much god bless."
John