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The Kent Oncology Centre at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells Trust is one of the top performing centres in the country and prides itself on innovation and new ways of delivering care to provide the best results to patients.

You can take a look at some of our latest developments below:

Top cancer centre develops care with new state-of-the-art radiotherapy machine

Patients in the Kent Oncology Centre are receiving some of the fastest treatment in the country but now also with increased state-of-the-art equipment after the first patients were treated with the new Halcyon machine based at Maidstone Hospital last month.

Only a small number of cancer treatment centres in England are using this new radiotherapy technology which halves treatment times and provides a much more comfortable experience for patients.

The £2 million Halcyon accelerator targets larger tumours more effectively and provides more accurate images in a less enclosed and quieter environment, helping to reduce the stress a patient may feel.

On Monday 25 July, bladder cancer patient Paul, 56, from Crowborough was the very first person to be treated with the new machine, saying: “It’s a much quieter machine than what I’ve been treated with before so it was a much more pleasant experience and I was in and out so quickly – it was a terrific service.

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1000th patient receives specialist cancer treatment

Meet David – the 1000th patient to undergo specialist treatment for prostate cancer at the Kent Oncology Centre at Maidstone Hospital.

David was given LDR (Low Dose Rate) prostate brachytherapy, a treatment for localised prostate cancer last week. The procedure involves implanting tiny radioactive ‘seeds’ in the prostate using ultrasound guidance.

The specialist technique, which has been an established and proven treatment for prostate cancer for over three decades, means patients receive very targeted treatment with fewer side effects. It takes just 45-60 minutes to carry out the surgery and patients can go home the same day.

With the brachytherapy seeds in place, radiation is accurately delivered to the prostate over a number of months with very little exposure to other parts of the body. The treatment also means men can usually continue with all their normal activities, including work and exercise.

MTW is one of a limited number of hospitals in the UK offering this procedure, and treated their first patient back in 2006. The expert Prostate Brachytherapy Team share their specialist knowledge by mentoring other brachytherapy centres including The Royal Marsden and healthcare centres further afield in Europe. In doing so, the team aims to increase opportunities for medical staff to become familiar with the technique and make it more accessible for patients internationally.

David, 77, from Tankerton, Kent, said: “Everything went as smooth as silk – a few days after the treatment I was back down my allotment and less than two weeks after the procedure it was like nothing had happened and I was totally back to normal. I’ve got nothing but praise and the NHS has done me proud, they are an excellent team at Maidstone and you can see how close-knit they are.

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Developing cancer care at Maidstone Hospital

Patients receiving care at the Kent Oncology Centre at Maidstone Hospital are now using streamlined ‘super clinic’ services after Helen Grant, MP for Maidstone and The Weald, officially opened the Oncology Outpatients Suite on Thursday 26 May.

The new building is next to the current oncology outpatient space at the Kent Oncology Centre. It has nine new clinic rooms and means patients can see consultants, registrars, cancer nurse specialists and radiographers in a ‘super clinic’ where multi-disciplinary teams work together to provide smooth and quick care.

Tracey Crouch, MP for Chatham and Aylesford, who has received care from staff within the Kent Oncology Centre, was also at the opening of the new facility which features two specialist clinic rooms meaning patients can quickly have blood tests, with the suite also able to host additional face-to-face consultations.

Both MPs alongside the Mayor of Maidstone, Derek Mortimer, were able to receive a tour of the new suite before the official unveiling of a commemorative plaque which will soon be displayed within the new facility.

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Innovative technology improving cancer care for patients

An image of the PillCam technology

n the last six months Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust (MTW) has removed almost 100 patients from the cancer pathway thanks to an innovative new pilot programme that helps check for signs of cancer.

MTW is the only organisation across Kent and Medway taking part in the pilot where patients swallow a tiny camera, known as a colon capsule endoscopy, to check for signs of cancer, providing a diagnosis within hours.

Since the launch of the programme in June 2021, the Trust has performed 147 colon capsule endoscopies, resulting in almost 100 patients being removed from the cancer pathway. Two patients have been referred for bowel cancer treatment and other patients have gone on to have procedures to remove pre-cancerous polyps that have been seen on images produced by the camera.

Results from the pilot to date show that MTW is in the top five Trusts for number of colon capsule endoscopies carried out since the launch of the programme. The pilot will run for a period of two years with the aim of extending the service in the future to patients outside of the cancer pathway.

Dr Laurence Maiden, Chief of Medicine and Emergency Care for MTW, commented: “This is another example of how MTW is a forward-thinking Trust, always looking for ways to embrace new technology to enhance patient care.

“We are delighted with the positive impact this pilot programme has already delivered for our patients and look forward to expanding this service beyond the cancer pathway in the future.”

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Prime minister and chancellor visit top performing cancer centre at Maidstone Hospital

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak met staff and patients during a visit to the Kent Oncology Centre at Maidstone Hospital today (7 Feb).

The Prime Minister praised the staff who provide cancer patients at the centre with some of the fastest access to treatment in England.

Mr Johnson said: “It’s been fantastic to see how Kent Oncology Centre consistently delivered care to patients throughout the pandemic, with some of the fastest access to treatment in England.

“I want the whole country to be able to meet these standards. We will shortly set out our plan for the biggest catch up programme in the NHS’s history so all patients can receive the right care, in the right place at the right time.”

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MTW invests in staff as thirteen nurses qualify to deliver lifesaving cancer treatment

Chemotherapy nurses outside Kent Oncology Centre

Thirteen nurses from Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust (MTW) are benefitting cancer patients across the region after recently qualifying to administer chemotherapy by completing a specialised intensive training course.

The nurses all undertook the Systemic Anti-Cancer Therapy (SACT) course which was funded by MTW with two of the nurses funded by the Kent Cancer Alliance.

The course included university classes at weekends as well as receiving training in-house alongside experienced chemotherapy staff in the haematology and oncology units and the in-patient ward.

After undertaking the training at Canterbury Christchurch University and Guys and St Thomas’ Hospital, the staff have already begun treating patients with all types of cancer.

The nurses will not only help deliver chemotherapy but the new qualification means they are also certified to deliver consultations to patients before and between cycles of chemotherapy to ensure they are fit to proceed with treatment, enabling doctors to focus on other areas of care.

Chemotherapy Development Nurse Practitioner, Jan Christie, who has overseen the nurses during their training, said: “I’ve really enjoyed watching and supporting them all develop their skills and knowledge to become our new Systemic Anti-Cancer Therapy trained staff nurses and I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate them all on their hard work and achievements.”

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