A rush of blood is making sure patients can have chemotherapy without delay at the South West Wales Cancer Centre in Swansea.
Most people attending the chemotherapy day unit within the centre at Singleton Hospital do start their treatment on time, but a problem was identified with people coming into Swansea from outlying areas to have chemotherapy on Monday mornings.
The delay affected those who provided pre-treatment blood samples the previous Friday in their nearest hospital or in their own homes. Because of the time it took to get the samples to the central labs for testing, the results were not always available first thing Monday, leading to delays of several hours for some patients.
Now Blood Bikes Wales is working with the team at Singleton to collect the samples and fast-track them to the labs.
People undergoing chemotherapy must have blood samples before each session to make sure they can have the treatment. After the results have come in, the pharmacists also undertake clinical safety checks.
Chemotherapy day unit manager Sue Rowland said patients due to attend on Monday morning would give a blood sample the previous Friday.
However, there were problems relating to those living in outlying areas who gave their samples in a local hospital or to a district nurse at home.
Sue said: “As part of a service improvement project we found that these blood samples were not reaching the lab until late Friday afternoon. Analysis was then not done in time for us to authorise their treatment and for pharmacy to undertake their safety checks in time for Monday. This resulted in only around 30 per cent of treatments on a Monday being made on time. The remaining patients were having to wait two or three hours for their treatment to start."
Sue contacted Blood Bikes Wales, whose volunteers provide a free out-of-hours courier service to the NHS in Wales.
Their riders now collect blood samples from Ystradgynlais, Neath Port Talbot and Gorseinon hospitals every Friday morning and take them directly to the lab for fast-track analysis.
Blood Bikes Wales works with five Welsh health boards including ABMU, transporting everything from blood to frozen breast milk. It runs a fleet of 12 bikes, all funded entirely by charitable donations.
The charity’s west area representative Malcolm Platt said: “We are thrilled to be helping the chemotherapy day unit improve the important service it provides and to help make patients’ lives a little easier.”