A bespoke service for cancer patients at Gateshead Health

The aseptic unit in the pharmacy department at Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust is responsible for manufacturing chemotherapy for all patients who are treated at our chemo day unit. The team supports the unit with treatments and the Programmed Investigation Unit (PIU) for the treatment of other illnesses such as rheumatoid arthritis or colitis.

The aseptic unit based at Gateshead Health allows us to keep products safe, clean, and protected to ensure we are keeping patients safe from infection. During chemotherapy, patients are vulnerable so it is important to keep them in a clean environment.

The team consists of two full-time pharmacists who support the unit and prescribe supportive medicines for patients for chemotherapy side effects. In addition, there is a team of multi skilled team of pharmacists, technicians and assistant technical officers who make the medication that helps patients during their treatment.

The on-site unit allows us to have a flexible, bespoke service for our patients. The medication is made on the day, which means patients arrive at the day unit, are checked that they are safe for treatment, and the chemotherapy is made and transported to the unit for treatment to start.

The journey of chemotherapy from the aseptic unit to the patient:

The prescription will arrive at the pharmacy department, and is verified and clinically checked by a pharmacist before being placed in a tray for dispensing.

A worksheet with labels and a tray sheet with ingredients are produced in the office. This is then transferred to the support room where the ingredients are assembled, along with consumables, batch numbers, and expiry dates.

The team has to wear protective and sterile clothing in the chemotherapy clean room and support rooms. This will prevent any contamination of medication.

A pharmacist or accredited checker then checks it before being decontaminated and swabbed to be transferred into the clean room via the support hatch. As part of the final check and release process, a pharmacist or accredited checker will inspect the bag under light before it can be taken down to the chemo day unit.

Gateshead Health’s volunteer team is a valued part of this service, as they transport the chemotherapy bags to the day unit for patients to be treated.

Taylor Sutton, Advanced Pharmacist for Oncology & Aseptic Services comments on the unit:

The team offers a responsive service which means patients don’t have to wait. We are providing quality medication safe for all of our patients.

Taylor Sutton, Advanced Pharmacist for Oncology & Aseptic Services