The Royal Marsden Facilities and services

Dedicated support for acutely ill patients

The Royal Marsden is transforming the way it cares for patients who experience acute troublesome symptoms

Specialist support: The acute oncology service team (L-R) is Dr Nadia Yousaf, Melissa Balcorta, Dr Alicia Okines and Andrew Rayner

The Royal Marsden’s acute oncology service (AOS) is designed for patients who require unplanned support in managing the complications of their cancer or the side effects of treatments such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy and immunotherapy.

Open 8am-8pm, Monday to Friday, the service is based in the Clinical Assessment Unit and is made up of a specialist team of doctors, nurses and healthcare assistants who assess existing patients to develop a tailored plan of care and treatment.

“Having a dedicated service means that 80-90% of the patients we see can now leave hospital on the same day they are treated,” said Dr Nadia Yousaf, Consultant Medical Oncologist in AOS.

Patients can be seen quickly by oncologists familiar with their needs

Dr Nadia Yousaf, Consultant Medical Oncologist, AOS

“This has improved their hospital experience as they can be seen quickly by oncologists familiar with their needs. It frees up inpatient beds for those with more serious problems, and reduces the number of people attending A&E with cancer-related complications.”

As well as being referred to the service by doctors, nurses or other healthcare professionals across the hospital, patients can call The Royal Marsden Macmillan Hotline. This helpline is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week for all our patients, their carers and healthcare professionals supporting them in the community.

Andy Dimech, Divisional Clinical Nurse Director, said: “The new hotline provides timely, specialist advice on the management of side effects and complications, as well as access to other information."

A patient's perspective: Lesley Swain

“I was successfully treated for melanoma at The Royal Marsden 13 years ago, but was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2013. I’m currently receiving weekly chemotherapy in the Medical Day Unit  in Chelsea. After becoming anaemic, I was referred to the acute oncology service for a blood transfusion.

“This is the second time I’ve been treated by the service, as I previously required drainage. All the staff have been absolutely marvellous. They are friendly, keep you informed and treat you as a person rather than just a number.”