The Royal Marsden

Putting patient safety first

The Royal Marsden offers private patients the unique benefits of an NHS hospital, including a robust system of governance that ensures treatments are safe and effective improve quality of care for both
Jatinder Harchowal

Jatinder Harchowal

Receiving private cancer care in an NHS setting has key benefits for patients at The Royal Marsden, giving them the confidence that stems from treatment decisions being made by multidisciplinary specialists, and access to a world-class critical care ward. Private patients can also rest assured that all aspects of their care – from prescribed drugs to the radiotherapy or surgery they have – has been reviewed and approved as part of the tight governance framework required of an NHS hospital. “All new drugs, and new indications for previously approved drugs, must be reviewed by the Drugs and Therapies Committee prior to use within the Trust,” says Chief Pharmacist Jatinder Harchowal, recently nominated for the LaingBuisson Rising Star award. “This amounts to a unique safety net. “In the private setting at The Royal Marsden, treatment decisions follow the same local requirements for clinical governance as they do for the NHS.”

Consultants must co-write a clinical review with a pharmacist and present their case, accompanied by at least two peer-reviewed papers demonstrating the drug’s safety and efficacy, to the committee. Chaired by Consultant Haematologist Dr Sunil Iyengar and comprising a combination of consultants, pharmacists and nurses, the committee then carries out a multidisciplinary review, scrutinising the data and challenging the case to ensure that all relevant experts agree that the drug is effective, safe and fit for clinical use.

Jatinder says: “We aim to give patients quick access to the right drugs for them, without compromising safety.” The benefit of experience Similarly, The Royal Marsden pioneers surgical techniques and proves their efficacy through research, without putting patients at risk.

The Trust has the most comprehensive programme of robotic surgery for cancer in the UK, and is the only centre to offer robotic oesophagectomies and perform free-flap surgery for head and neck cancers. Consultant Surgeon Mr Asif Chaudry explains that surgeons who have the benefit of the NHS’s experience behind them are forever conscious not to take risks unduly. “NHS England has the longest internal memory of any healthcare provider, and a length and breadth of experience in risk modification and mitigation smaller entities don’t have,” he says. “In surgery, we use this to our advantage, learning from what has gone before and ensuring we continually evaluate the efficacy of our work.”

Professor David Nicol, Consultant Urologist and Chief of Surgery, adds: “Thanks to strict regulations, surgeons with the most experience and the best training work for the NHS. This benefits all patients at The Royal Marsden, whether NHS or private.”

Every piece matters 

Every item of equipment a Royal Marsden patient has contact with has been approved as safe and effective, says Pat Cattini, Lead Nurse for Infection Prevention and Control. “New devices have to be rubber-stamped by the Medical Device Committee, who assess the clinical benefit; as well as Procurement, who assess the efficiency; and must comply with strict infection prevention and control requirements,” she explains. “Whether it’s a new scope costing £20,000 or the cotton swabs we use, everything is carefully considered for its safety and effectiveness.”