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Thursday 27th October 2016

UK’s first mobile cancer support unit starts work in Merthyr

24th February 2009

The UK’s first holistic mobile cancer support unit by Welsh cancer charity, Tenovus, has made its first journey to Merthyr Tydfil. 

To mark the occasion a ribbon was cut by The Mayor of Merthyr Tydfil Cllr Clive Jones and members of the public were welcomed on board for tours of the unit, parked at the ASDA car park at Dowlais Top.

Staffed by Tenovus, the 13.6m long, 60m² mobile unit will visit Merthyr Tydfil every Wednesday to provide emotional and practical support and information for patients and their families. The unit also visits the Bridgend Designer Outlet Village every Monday.

Tenovus will also use the unit to run cancer education and awareness programmes in communities in Merthyr and across Wales to help them develop their own cancer prevention projects.

In conjunction with Velindre Hospital, Tenovus will launch chemotherapy from the mobile unit on 12 March in Cwmbran. This will be the first time in the UK that such a unit will deliver treatment in a local community setting and will drastically reduce patients’ journey times to the hospital.

Claudia McVie, Chief Executive of Tenovus, said: “Forty six people a day in Wales are told they have cancer, and this figure will double by 2020.  The combination of more people being diagnosed with cancer and increasing survival rates mean that a growing number of people are in need of our help.

“We have designed the mobile unit which with our specialist Cancer Support Team will be able to provide a complete package of support services for those affected by cancer.
“Reports show that each cancer patient will visit hospital an average of 53 times*. The physical, emotional and financial costs of travelling to treatment centres and hospitals are great for many cancer patients, and the mobile unit aims to ease these pressures for patients and their families by taking the services directly to them.
“Our research has shown that cancer incidence is 22 per cent higher in Wales than in England, and there is a higher risk of cancer in areas of social deprivation, where outcomes are often worse.

“Therefore, we feel that our mobile unit is truly groundbreaking work which will help meet the needs of today’s cancer patients and to address the inequities our research showed cancer patients across Wales face. Through this exciting project that we’re extremely proud of, we hope that we can make a real difference to cancer treatment and survival rates in Wales.”

Tracey Burke, manger of Cancer Aid Merthyr Tydfil Ltd said:

“This is the first time I’ve seen the Tenovus unit in action and it’s even more impressive when you see it - and you can see the blue from miles away! It’s going to be a fantastic facility in Merthyr Tydfil and will enhance all the work we’re currently doing to battle cancer in the area.

“Cancer Aid Merthyr Tydfil has worked in partnership with Tenovus for years now to identify the needs of patients and gaps in the services on offer. Merthyr is definitely the right place to be launching this unit and I guarantee that it will become a phenomenal success and a recognisable sight for the public.”

Merthyr Tydfil Mayor Clive Jones said:

“I’ve been very impressed with the work that Tenovus has put into this unit. It’s going to make a significant difference to the local communities of Merthyr. For cancer sufferers making the 50mile round trip to Velindre for treatment can be a full-day and exhausting expedition, so this will go a long way to easing that pressure.

“Asda is a superb venue too with excellent parking.  I’m delighted to see it in action, and it’s testament to the hard work of this charity that cancer treatment has developed to such an extent that chemotherapy is now being delivered practically on people’s doorsteps, and in a purpose-built vehicle.”

Tenovus is the official charity partner for Ryder Cup Wales 2010 Ltd.

Through this partnership Tenovus aims to raise £1 million to fund the mobile cancer support unit project.  In 2008, The Ryder Cup trophy was taken on a Wales-wide helicopter tour of golf clubs, and Tenovus has benefited from Ryder Cup Wales auctions and contributions at gala dinners.

John Jermine, Chairman of Ryder Cup Wales, said: “We are hugely grateful to European Tour Chief Executive George O’Grady and his team whose generous support of Tenovus will help us raise the funds for these mobile units benefiting the whole of Wales and establishing a life enhancing legacy for generations to come.”

The mobile unit will be complemented by a network of local Tenovus support centres, providing services such as patient and family counselling and bereavement support. From the local support centres Tenovus will also run research projects, health education and cancer prevention activities Tenovus will open its first local support centre later this year.

Andrea Hague, Director of Patient Services at Velindre Hospital, said:

“The team at Velindre is delighted to be working with Tenovus on such an exciting and unique project, and we look forward to developing plans for the future on this new way of delivering patient treatment and care.”

For more information on working with Tenovus on cancer education and awareness programmes or to make an appointment to see the Tenovus Cancer Support Team on the unit, call the Tenovus Freephone Cancer Support Line on 0808 808 1010.

* Figures from Macmillan

Monday: Bridgend
Wednesday: (from 18 February) Merthyr Tydfil
Thursday: (from 12 March) Cwmbran


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