Patients and staff have celebrated the launch of an oncology service that gives cancer patients rapid access to specialist care, without the need for an overnight stay.

Opened in partnership with Macmillan Cancer Support, the Ambulatory Oncology Care Unit (AOCU) at St George’s provides a central location for cancer patients to receive prompt assessment and treatment when they experience complications from their medication or symptoms.

This means that most patients don’t have to wait in the Emergency Department (ED), but can be seen by the right specialists, sooner.

Ambulatory care is a way of treating patients without staying the night in hospital; many patients now suitable for ambulatory care would traditionally have had to receive the same treatment as an inpatient.

At the launch, attendees heard from patient Felix who had nothing but praise for the unit. He felt staff were calm and caring, and he appreciated being seen in AOCU as an alternative to ED.

A smaller scale version of the service has been running since June, but the new service has a larger clinic room and extended hours, meaning double the amount of patients can be seen.

Dr Laura Assersohn, Oncology Consultant, and Oncology Department Lead said: “We’re delighted to have commenced this new service in March, as a result of the collaboration between the Trust and Macmillan Cancer Support. This additional facility means that patients can be seen by one of the oncology team, close to Trevor Howell Day Unit. Patients ring the triage line and can then be directed to the right place for their care.”

Dr Sonia Dore, Macmillan Project Manager at the Trust said: “98% of patients rated their care in the Ambulatory Oncology Care Unit as good or excellent. It’s been a real team effort and we will continue building on this initial success.”

Ed Tallis, Head of Services in London, Macmillan Cancer Support said: “Working in partnership with St George’s has been a pleasure and a privilege. The opening of the Ambulatory Oncology Care Unit is more proof that we are constantly finding new ways to help cancer patients going through a very hard time.”

The unit has been set up as part of the St George’s and Macmillan Cancer Support Partnership to improve cancer patient experience.