Foundation helps FORCE deliver chemotherapy first in Okehampton

force chemo van jan 18.jpg

A vital grant from the Exeter Foundation is helping cancer patients in West Devon to receive chemotherapy treatment in Okehampton for the first time.

Exeter Foundation Trustee Keiron Northcott recently handed over the keys to the new FORCE outreach chemotherapy van to the charity’s Chief Finance Officer Julia Pitts. The Foundation gave a grant of £9,000 towards the cost of the new outreach vehicle which will transport the drugs around the county.

Keiron, who is also Deputy Chief Executive at the Exeter Chiefs, said: “The van is another example of the Foundation supporting the local community and we’re very pleased to do so. The charity has some real momentum and it’s good to see them doing so much great work in our community.” Mrs Pitts added: “We are very grateful to the Exeter Foundation for making such a generous contribution towards the cost of a second vehicle which will enable chemotherapy to be delivered in FORCE@ locations. We have already received amazing feedback from patients who have benefited from having treatment closer to home so we know that this service will make a huge difference.”

Thanks to funding from FORCE Cancer Charity, the new chemotherapy service will be available every Wednesday between 10am and 4pm at Okehampton Hospital from February 21.

FORCE already offers regular support and information sessions at Castle Ham Lodge in Okehampton and has set aside money from a legacy to pay for this new and important weekly facility in the town.

The money is funding specialist nurses from the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital to administer some of the more straightforward treatments to patients, saving them the journey to Wonford whenever possible.

FORCE began funding a pilot outreach chemotherapy project at Tiverton Hospital in July. The feedback from patients and nursing staff has been so positive that it is being rolled out as quickly as possible in Okehampton.

It is hoped that the service will also be offered at a third location in East Devon later this year.

The charity is spending £160,000 on three years of funding for two full-time chemotherapy nurses, who will work in Exeter two days a week and eventually in FORCE’s outreach locations for the remaining three.

FORCE has worked closely with the RD&E to make the new chemotherapy services more widely available.

Tina Grose, Lead Cancer Nurse at the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust said: “We are delighted to continue working with FORCE to develop the outreach chemotherapy programme. The feedback from the service at Tiverton has been overwhelmingly positive, not only from patients but also from staff. The plans to open in Okehampton will further develop this patient-focused initiative, building on the positive impact for patients’ wellbeing at a difficult time.”

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