Cancer is a condition where cells in a specific part of the body grow and reproduce uncontrollably. The cancerous cells can invade and destroy surrounding healthy tissue, including organs.
In Bedford, breast, colorectal, lung, and prostate cancers account for about 50% of all cancer diagnoses in both men and women. For more information about cancer, or to see research conducted by Prof. Robert Thomas and the research team at Bedford Hospital, please visit www.cancernet.co.uk.
The Primrose Unit
The oncology services at Bedford Hospital are based in the dedicated oncology unit: The Primrose Unit, which was funded by Bedford Hospitals Charity, in liaison with Macmillan Cancer Support and opened in 2003.
The unit provides a full complement of high quality, clinical and support services and is a cancer treatment unit with facilities to treat a wide range of cancers areas including breast, colorectal, lung, prostate, gastric, lymphoma and gynaecology. The Primrose unit team is made up of three consultants, a clinical oncology assistant, nurse specialists and a nursing team, all of whom work very closely with other departments within Bedford Hospital and with the radiology centre at Addenbrooke’s Hospital to ensure a multi disciplinary approach to patient care and to offer a truly holistic service to all patients at each stage of their cancer journey.
The Primrose unit houses Bedford Hospital’s outpatient oncology service for cancer patients. New and follow-up patients with cancer are seen in one of the twelve clinics each week.
Chemotherapy, monoclonal antibody therapy and other anti-neoplastic agents are administered daily in the purpose built suite in the primrose unit by one of our eight specialist chemotherapy nurses, and supported by a phlebotomist in the unit. It has facilities for diagnostic outpatient interventional procedures and therapeutic interventions.
The chemotherapy suite offers daily sessions (during weekdays), for oncology patients and shared care for haematology patients and is attached to the outpatient clinic area allowing the nursing staff to work closely with all of the consultants, ensuring a first class, seamless service for all the patients. The primrose unit has its own phlebotomy service and a cancer information and support centre.
A scalp cooling system is also available which can be used to minimise chemotherapy induced alopecia. The unit also provides a PICC line service and 24hr telephone support line for chemotherapy patients. The unit also houses the palliative care team, and the clinical research team.
Patients requiring radiotherapy have their treatment carried out at Addenbrooke’s hospital in Cambridge. Patients requiring surgery and other interventions are discussed in one of the six multidisciplinary team meetings which are held each week, some of which are teleconferenced to the cancer centre in Cambridge and other centers in the Anglia Cancer Network.
Cancer Information and Support Service
The Macmillan Cancer Information and Support Centre was developed as a joint venture between Macmillan and the Primrose Oncology unit at Bedford Hospital in 2004, to ensure that people affected by cancer have access to comprehensive, appropriate information and support.
The centre is open from 9am–6pm Monday to Friday.
The service offers:
- A drop in service for a wide range of information and support
- Health, financial and life management advice
- Referral to other healthcare professionals
- Details of local and national support services and organisations
- Details about complementary therapies and outreach sessions in the community
Contact number 01234 792667
Macmillan Cancer and palliative care psychology service
We are a specialist confidential psychological support service for patients and families affected by cancer, covering Luton and Bedfordshire. We offer consultations in a range of locations, including within the Bedford Primrose unit, Luton and Dunstable University Hospital and in non-hospital locations within Bedford, Luton and Dunstable.
Meet the team
Dr Sara Rassool – Macmillan Consultant Clinical Psychologist
Marie Browne – Macmillan Family Psychotherapist
Dr Mary Keilty – Macmillan Clinical Psychologist
Matt Hopton – Macmillan Specialist Psychotherapist
Dr Emma Cassidy-Ingles – Macmillan Clinical Psychologist
Our team focus exclusively on cancer and palliative care. We receive referrals from members of the clinical team for people with any cancer diagnosis, at any stage of their care, with any cancer-related psychological difficulties. We also welcome relatives, partners and carers to be referred.
How can I be referred?
Please talk to your clinical nurse specialist or key professional involved in your care (eg oncologist, chemotherapy practitioner, community Macmillan nurse) about being referred to the service.
For information please see our patient leaflet here.
Breast and Bowel Cancer Centre
In May 2010, a dedicated breast and bowel cancer centre was created to offer patients a ‘one stop’ service. The purpose built facility contains diagnostic and clinical facilities meaning that patients with suspected breast or bowel cancer can have diagnostic tests, results and consultations in the same place and in many cases, on the same day.
The new centre makes the service more efficient and convenient for anxious patients, and means that any treatment required can begin as soon as possible. The new clinic also creates extra capacity which will reduce waiting times for patients with suspected breast or bowel cancer.
Lead Cancer Nurse: Yvonne Jeffs
Cancer Manager: Karen Jackson
There are six oncology consultants each covering their specialised areas.
- Professor Robert Thomas – Breast / Prostate / Bowel
- Dr Ramesh Bulusu – Lung / UGI / Lymphoma
- Dr Sarah Smith – Breast / Gynae / Colorectal
- Dr Athar Ahmad
- Dr Aslam
- Dr Penny McNamara – Palliative Care
- Dr Tejal Shah – Palliative Care
To find out more about the consultants at Bedford Hospital please visit the about my consultant pages.
Clinical Nurse Specialists
Clinical nurse specialists are highly qualified and experienced cancer nurses. They work closely with other health care professionals to provide information about the disease, possible side effects and treatment.
Julie Rowley– Manager
Sue O’Connor – Chemotherapy Nurse
Sue Ashton – Chemotherapy Nurse
Wendy Cox – Chemotherapy Nurse
Ashleigh Quick – Chemotherapy Nurse
Neil McKay – Chemotherapy Nurse
Jenna Rowley – Chemotherapy Nurse
Laura Breacher – Chemotherapy Nurse
Julie Rowley – Chemotherapy Nurse
Andrea Scammell – Chemotherapy Nurse
Keshia Gabriel – Chemotherapy Co-ordinator
Caroline Barclay – Acute Oncology Nurse
Laura Gillespie – Acute Oncology Nurse
To change or cancel an outpatient or chemotherapy appointment please ring the Primrose unit reception on (01234) 792652, call the hospital switchboard on (01234) 355122 ext. 2350. For chemotherapy appointments, contact 01234 792651 or via the hospital switchboard on (01234) 355122 ext. 2332.
The Luton and Dunstable University Hospital (L&D) provides cancer and palliative care services to patients and their families.
The L&D consultants treat the following sites:
Breast, lung, colorectal, oesophageal and gastric, pancreatic, gynaecology, urology, haematology skin, head and neck and thyroid. We offer onward referral to other specialist hospitals, if required.
Oncology Services are provided by consultant staff from the Mount Vernon Cancer Centre, taking part in combined clinics and multidisciplinary meetings with our hospital cancer teams.
The Supportive Care Service is based within the Macmillan Cancer Unit, where chemotherapy treatments are given.
Also based within the unit are Cancer Nurse Specialists, Macmillan Palliative Care Nurses and volunteers.
In addition the following services are available:
- Patient information and Support Service – a full range of patient information booklets are available as well as access to the internet
- Complementary Therapy Service and ‘Look Good, Feel Better’ (pampering therapy)
- Psychology Service – psychological assessment and referral to the Macmillan Psychology Service is available
- Welfare Benefits Advisor – a comprehensive assessment of financial needs can be undertaken
- Lymphoedema clinics
- Orthotics Service – wigs and prosthetics
- Palliative care
- Cancer and exercise program
The Cancer and Palliative Care Team work closely with local community teams to ensure patients and their families have continued supportive care in the home. Community teams work together with GPs, Macmillan Nurses, Community Matrons, Keech Hospice, Marie Curie, and Social Services.
To access the service contact your GP or Cancer Nurse Specialist, or contact the information and support service on 01582 718189
Breast Screening Service – The Beds and Herts Breast Screening Service is based at the L&D.
We provide high quality screening and diagnostic services for women living in Luton, South Bedfordshire and parts of Hertfordshire.
Please see our Breast screening page for more information.
Bowel Screening Service
The L&D offers a full screening service for Luton, south Bedfordshire and parts of Hertfordshire and coordinates the programme in this area. Bowel Screening includes endoscopy services and specialist screening nurse clinics for people receiving an abnormal result.
The Cervical Screening Service
We offer comprehensive Cervical Screening Service for women referred by their local GP and provide follow-up investigations if required.