Ensuring a safe environment tailored to the unique needs of cancer patients is the top priority for the team at Paul Strickland Scanner Centre during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The centre saw a fall in demand for scans earlier this year due to some cancellations, as well as changes in cancer care. One factor that played a role has been the deferment of cancer surgery in many cases, following guidance released by the NHS in March. Where radiotherapy is a viable alternative, this has led to an increase in radiotherapy planning scans.
“The pandemic has had a huge impact on the healthcare system and we’ve worked really hard to make sure we can remain operational,” said ceo Claire Strickland.
Like many other healthcare organisations, the centre suddenly had to buy a huge amount of PPE. “We meticulously took stock and contacted our suppliers early on to make sure we have enough of everything, however it has been a huge additional expense. We operate as an independent charity and unfortunately our other fund-raising has taken a hit because we have had to cancel so many of our events. Although our future remains secure, COVID-19 has had a big financial impact on the centre overall,” Strickland explained.
The specialist cancer imaging charity gives patients and their medical teams access to high quality CT, MRI and PETCT scanning. First established in 1985 by oncologist Dr Paul Strickland following a successful fund-raising drive, the centre has since built a record of introducing and driving innovation in medical imaging for cancer. It is is co-located with the renowned Mount Vernon Cancer Centre in Northwood and its team works closely with some of the country’s leading oncologists. An in-house clinical research team actively supports cancer research.
“Our focus has been on keeping staff and patients safe, which has meant we’ve taken measures like setting the chairs further apart in our waiting room and discouraging visitors other than patients from coming to the centre. We’ve also encouraged staff to work from home where this is feasible, including our radiologists who now spend some of their time reporting scans from home,” continued Strickland.
“I’m really pleased how staff have pulled together over the past weeks and I’m very proud of the team, which has kept things going under very challenging circumstances.”
The centre continues to attract patients from across the UK and abroad due to its specialist expertise in cancer imaging and it says it is a world leader in whole body MRI for cancer, having carried out more scans of this type than any other centre globally.
Patient Julia reports on the treatment she has received at Paul Strickland Scanner Centre: “I was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer in 2016 and have had regular scans at the centre since my treatment first started at Mount Vernon.
“Earlier this year, I experienced a lot of pain and badly needed another MRI scan. I was incredibly grateful that the team was there for me when I needed them. As a result of my scan, I was able to have radiotherapy treatment the same week, which drastically improved my situation and made things much more bearable. I cannot thank the team enough and feel incredibly lucky that they continue to be there for me when I need them.”
Lead picture: Radiographers Mark Cracknell, Rachael Bowie and Geraldine Oxenham practising social distancing.
Published on page 6 of the June 2020 issue of RAD Magazine.