How cancer patients receive the most modern care in buildings that are 'not fit for purpose'

How cancer patients receive the most modern care in buildings that are 'not fit for purpose'
How cancer patients receive the most modern care in buildings that are 'not fit for purpose' 5 July 2023 05:36 PM: Graham Hart has stage four cancer. It's in his liver and his colon.

The 60-year-old self-employed businessman noticed some bleeding after going to the toilet and made an appointment to see his GP.

The doctor referred Mr Hart to the cancer specialists at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading.

Mr Hart says the news was devastating but now treatment is under way he is more hopeful.

Graham Hart has stage 4 cancer
Image: Graham Hart has stage four cancer

"I've seen the news and you do have anxiety about these things but once you're up and running… it's OK."

Mr Hart is receiving the most modern medical care but his treatment is carried out in a building that opened in 1839.

And it shows.

The rain flooded through the ceiling of the waiting room yesterday forcing the evacuation of waiting patients to a drier part of the building.

There is a gaping hole in the ceiling and buckets are still there in case there is more bad weather.


Next door on the cancer ward the electrics can't be upgraded or the listed building's structure changed in any way.

Rain came down through the roof at the Royal Berkshire Hospital
Image: Rain came down through the roof at the Royal Berkshire Hospital

Walking through the empty room, Mark Foulkes, the president of the UK Oncology Nursing Society, points to the hole in the ceiling and says: "The fact is that some of these buildings are just not fit for purpose, as we can see here - it rained last night as you remember, and it also unfortunately rained in here.

"So, patient care continues, we'll get on with that, the staff are brilliant.

"The fact that we're used to dealing with this tells you something about the challenges we face on a day-to-day basis."

Buckets were put out in the waiting room to catch water
Image: Buckets were put out in the waiting room in case there was more rain

It's against challenges like this that the NHS must work to bring down record waiting lists at a time when demand for services continues to grow.

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Steve McManus started his career as a nurse. He is now the chief executive of Royal Berkshire Foundation NHS Trust.

He welcomes a new 15-year workforce plan to boost the number of health staff but says these workers will need the infrastructure to do their jobs properly.

Mr McManus said: "We also need a longer term plan, like the NHS workforce plan that starts to address the sort of physical environment, the technological environment, with the kit that we need to deliver modern healthcare services."

The government says it will eventually deliver thousands of extra doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals but the workforce plan is long term and the benefits will not be felt for years to come even though the pressures for the NHS are present now.

The hospital's emergency department recorded its busiest ever day ever just a few weeks ago with over 600 patients seen.

That's more than three times the number they would expect to see in the summer.

It is more evidence that NHS pressures exist all year round and not just during winter.

On Wednesday 5 July the NHS marked its 75th anniversary, with Sky News exclusively revealing almost half of people in Britain feel NHS care will get worse in the coming years.

It comes as experts warned that the NHS - created in July 1948 - may not reach its 100th birthday without more resources and fundamental reforms.

There is no denying the NHS its history, but unless it gets urgent help it's future will be in doubt.

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