"Basic care for cancer patient should be better"

About: Freeman Hospital / Clinical oncology

(as a relative),

My Mum has been attending Freeman Road hospital 5 days a week for one month of radiotherapy.

As the treatment has commenced the side effects have become worse as was explained. However there has been no forward planning. My mum has been left high and dry with severe nausea and vomiting, and no anti-emetic (anti-sickness treatment).

Nausea and vomiting is probably the most common of side effects with this kind of treatment. Surely someone could have had a little forward thinking and provided a prescription in anticipation of this happening?

As a nurse myself I am appalled at the lack of basic care management for patients who are coping with this stressful, unpleasant treatment.

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Response from The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Thank you for taking the time to post your comments on Patient Opinion regarding the level of care your mum recently received while under the care of the Freeman Hospital. We would like to apologise that the service received was below the standard we aim to provide and for the understandable distress caused to you and your mum.

Nausea and vomiting can be a side effect of radiotherapy - this depends on the part of the body being treated. The vast majority of patients do not suffer from this side-effect but when nausea and vomiting is expected, anti-sickness treatment is prescribed by the doctor before treatment starts. Should a patient develop these symptoms unexpectedly, the therapy radiographers who treat the patient each day would refer the patient to the doctor for immediate treatment. All of our radiotherapy patients are reviewed weekly to check for any side effects and in order to provide support during their treatment. It appears that the system has fallen down at some point in this instance for which we sincerely apologise.

We would encourage all of our patients, along with their relatives and carers, to bring any concern they may have to the attention of the nursing or management staff as soon as possible. This will enable us to correct the problem for the individual concerned and improve the service for all in the future.

Please be assured that we constantly strive to improve our service and patient feedback is very much appreciated as it helps us identify issues of concern. If you would like to discuss this matter further please do not hesitate to contact the Radiotherapy Services Manager Nicola Bruce on 0191 233 6161.