A NEW sterile pharmacy unit has been opened at Ashington’s Wansbeck General Hospital to supply chemotherapy drugs for cancer patients.
The £1m facility will help meet increasing demand for drugs for patients attending the cancer unit at the Woodhorn Lane hospital and also North Tyneside, Berwick and Hexham hospitals.
There has been a rise of more than a third in the number of cancer patients treated by Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, leading to a 53 per cent increase in demand for chemotherapy drugs since 2007.
Six new staff have been recruited to man the new unit, and it is hoped that more will follow.
Two isolators, specialist machines for making drugs in a sterile environment, have been running at full capacity in the hospital’s existing unit. The new facility is equipped with five modern isolators.
The new unit will also offer a new centralised intravenous additive service.
Intravenous drugs are currently prepared on hospital wards, but production will move to the new unit.
Graeme Richardson, deputy chief pharmacist at the trust, said: “The sterile unit is an exciting development for Wansbeck General Hospital.
“I am delighted that we have been able to expand our specialist team.
“We now have the space and the staff to be able to offer an increased service to the wards.
“We are already in discussions with some of our consultants to look at new ways of working – for example, producing drugs that patients can store and use at home.”
The unit was given its official opening by Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery.
He said: “I am delighted that Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust has decided to locate this important facility at Wansbeck General Hospital.
“It will benefit cancer patients not only in Wansbeck but throughout Northumberland and North Tyneside, providing much-needed chemotherapy medicines so they can be treated closer to their homes.
“I am also pleased to see that the new unit has provided another six new jobs for the area.”