A new dedicated Rheumatology infusion suite has been unveiled at Milton Keynes University Hospital (MKUH). Located in the Willow Unit (Blue Zone, Level One), the introduction of the new suite means patients are now able to access treatments some of which were previously only available at Oxford University Hospitals, eliminating the need to travel.
Service users are able to receive their long-term immunosuppressant medications, many of which are delivered intravenously, in an environment created with their unique needs and requirements in mind.
In line with local population growth and increased demand on services, the Rheumatology department has expanded from 2 consultants, a specialty doctor, and a nurse to a team of 5 consultants and 4 nurses. This development and investment has increased the number of patients under the team’s care, enabling them to expand their service to include surrounding areas. The introduction of the new facility will further increase the number of patients the team can see in one day, thereby reducing waiting times.
The suite has been operational since July, with patients commenting on the calming, comfortable environment, and the opportunity to network and socialise with others who have similar conditions, providing valuable peer support.
Dr Shoma Banerjee, Clinical Lead for Rheumatology at MKUH said: “I’d like to thank the management team at MKUH for their support in setting up the suite, as well as our nursing team for their hard work and dedication. As doctors, we put forward ideas and make these decisions, but it’s our nurses who make them a reality.
“By providing these treatments at MKUH, we are able to keep patients out of hospital and at work, with their families, simply enjoying life and living well.
“We expect the capacity of the throughput to increase over time, meaning thousands of local patients will benefit from this facility in the years to come.”
One of these patients is Margaret Smith. Margaret, who attends the infusion unit and runs the Milton Keynes National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society (NRAS) support group, commented: “I was diagnosed with inflammatory arthritis about 11 years ago and started infusions two years ago.
“Having the new facility located at MKUH is definitely an advantage for me as I live in Milton Keynes. Travelling to Oxford for infusions would take a whole day as opposed to a couple of hours and would be significantly more expensive and difficult to arrange, particularly at times when I felt too unwell to drive myself.
“Over the pandemic, I felt very isolated, so it’s nice to now have somewhere local I can come and share my experiences with people who understand. The support from the team at MKUH has been fantastic.”
The infusion clinic was officially opened by Mayor of Milton Keynes Councillor Amanda Marlow at a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by MKUH Chief Executive Joe Harrison, Chair Alison Davis, Medical Director Ian Reckless, members of the Rheumatology team, and staff from across the Trust who have supported the delivery of the suite.
For more information on Rheumatology at MKUH, click here.