As we now head into the summer months, progress is also heading in the same direction as works within the new oncology unit itself commences. Vital services including hot and cold water and ventilation are being installed and construction continues to develop the whole paediatric integrated unit into one joined-up space. The installation of the first phase of steelworks is due to start this month, alongside the building up of a number of external walls.

This month, we spoke to clinical oncology nurse specialists, Orla Simpson and Laura Tyler, to explain what a huge impact the new unit will have on the children of Croydon and the medial teams who will be working there.


Orla, can you tell us a bit about your role?
As a Children’s Oncology Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS for short), we work with all children who have a cancer diagnosis and their families. My role involves co-ordinating care between their primary treatment centres (PTC’s), such as the Royal Marsden, Great Ormond Street or University College Hospital London and Croydon University Hospital as their paediatric oncology shared care unit (POSCU).

This means administering chemotherapy in Croydon so that patients can access some of their care closer to home, arranging blood tests in the home with their community nursing teams (we work with many different teams) and ensuring collaboration between all medical teams, to ensure anyone providing clinical care has the most up to date information about our patients.


How long have you been working in children’s nursing?
I joined Croydon Health Services NHS Trust in April 2018. Before that, I worked at Great Ormond Street Hospital.


Laura, can you tell us how the new oncology unit will make a difference to your young patients?
At the moment, because of the limited space we have, our patients are confined to a room when they are admitted to Croydon. They cannot leave that room for the duration of their admission to protect them from the risk of catching other infections, as they have a very low immunity.

Having a dedicated oncology unit will allow some of our patients to come out of their cubicles and interact with other young people, reducing isolation and anxiety. It will also give us the opportunity to provide areas for rest and reflection for patients and relatives alike, during some of the most difficult times in their lives.


What is the benefit of having specialist oncology services and nurses on site in Croydon?
Given the nature of our jobs, we tend to build close relationships with families and develop a rapport with the children, to understand how we can provide care in the best way for them. At the moment, we work as an outreach team, which means we are based in the hospital but also visit young people in their homes, so we can make sure that wherever a child receives treatment, they are getting the best possible care for them.

With the launch of our new oncology unit, we will also have an additional two dedicated oncology nurses, which is a huge benefit for our patients receiving treatment and for our staff to learn from their expertise.


What would you say to those fundraising for The Lily Pad Appeal and The Chartwell Cancer Trust?
We cannot thank The Lily Pad Appeal enough for all their fundraising efforts, which have helped bring our plans for the oncology unit to life. We’re so excited to have a brand new, dedicated space for Croydon’s young patients and we can’t wait to celebrate when it opens.