Chemotherapy treatment is now being offered at Cromer Hospital, saving north Norfolk patients a long, stressful journey to the other side of Norwich.

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Sessions are being offered on Thursday mornings in the hospital’s Muriel Thoms Unit to patients who need treatments which can be given at weekly or three weekly appointments.

Previously patients had to travel to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital for such treatments; a 50-mile round trip for someone living in Cromer and even further afield for those in more far-flung parts of north Norfolk.

Lead chemotherapy nurse Debra Blackstone said: “Many patients receiving chemotherapy say their lives revolve around treatment and they struggle to maintain any semblance of normality. Chemotherapy provided closer to home at Cromer Hospital will alleviate some of the stress and anxiety experienced by patients at this time, improving the experience of our patients and maintaining the highest standard of care.”

The hospital hoped eventually to expand the service, according to consultant oncologist Dr Daniel Epurescu, who praised the hard work of staff which had enabled it to be offered.

Chemotherapy patient Sophie Cotton, from Cromer, chose to have her treatment at Cromer Hospital.

She said: “It is a great advantage coming to Cromer for people who live in the area, saving all the problems with transport and relying on the kindness of others to take you. It is a very pleasant atmosphere and the staff are friendly, so why wouldn’t you want to come to Cromer?”

Norman Lamb, MP for North Norfolk, described the development as fantastic news for north Norfolk people which would make a real difference to patients and relatives at a difficult time in their lives.

“It is incredibly important to ensure that people are able to receive treatment as close to home as possible,” Mr Lamb added.

The £15.3m hospital was opened in March 2012. In its first full year it dealt with 133,000 patients - eight percent more than during the last year at the old hospital.

And hospital manager Helen Lloyd said the second year’s figures, due to be confirmed at the end of March, would be even higher.

Chemotherapy is the latest in a number of extra services which have been offered at the new hospital.

In October last laser treatment for varicose veins was introduced and a number of other services were expanded, ranging from minor skin operations to pain management.

And in November, cardiology services were also expanded, with a new out-patient clinic and additional echocardiography clinics.

The hospital was built using an £11m-plus legacy from Sagle Bernstein - whose sister, Muriel Thoms, had been cared for there - and £1.4m from grateful former patient Phyllis Cox.

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