Clare Dikken is bringing 30 years of experience in cancer care to a new position as lead oncology nurse at The Montefiore Hospital in Hove.
Known and recognised for the role she played as the lead chemotherapy nurse of the Sussex Cancer Network, the 55-year-old from Lancing has been recruited by the private hospital to develop and expand its chemotherapy service.
“This is an exciting opportunity as I will be seeing patients at the start of their journey through to the end of their treatment,” she said. “My last role was in a senior management position which was interesting but took me away from direct patient care. This role means I can go back to looking after patients – it is what I have been trained to do and what I have always loved.”
In the early days of her career in oncology, Clare spearheaded the launch of a nurse-led chemotherapy service for Worthing Hospital which treated a variety of cancers including breast. She and her team also created the hospital’s lymphoedema service.
She remained in the role for 18 years before moving to the Sussex Cancer Network where, for seven years, she was instrumental in standardising policy and procedures for all the chemotherapy units across the county, from Rye to Worthing and Brighton to East Grinstead. She also worked in each of the chemotherapy units delivering chemotherapy and conducting capacity and demand studies, which showed that chemotherapy was increasing at a rate of 15 to 20 per cent per year.
“The face of cancer has changed over the years and many more patients survive their cancer,” she said. “In fact, half of cancer patients will survive 10 years or more, and many will be cured. As cancer numbers continue to increase, it is important to develop cancer services for the people of Sussex.”
Up until her new role at The Montefiore, Clare was the lead cancer nurse at the Western Sussex Hospital NHS Foundation.
At The Montefiore, she will oversee the state-of-the-art chemotherapy unit which has seven patient rooms, plus a treatment room and a quiet area (designed by artist Brian Eno) where a patient can relax if they are feeling anxious. The service, which specialises in breast and colorectal cancer, offers a cold-capping system to reduce hair loss, and patients can benefit from complimentary therapies such as acupuncture and massage.
A pharmacy is situated just across the hallway from the unit, ensuring treatments are delivered efficiently and on time.
“It is a beautifully appointed unit which helps our patients to feel as relaxed as possible whilst they receive their treatment. There is a lovely atmosphere here which allows us to build a good relationship with our patients,” said Clare.
And the care offered extends to the patients’ families, she says.
“We offer them support and advice – patients and their families have access to our emergency help line which is staffed with trained nurses. As well as discussing the treatment with patients and their relatives, we discuss other aspects of life as well. And yes, there is often laughter – in cancer care, it is always important to ensure the normality of life.”
For more information about The Montefiore chemotherapy service, call 01273 828 120 or visit www.themontefiorehospital.co.uk