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Free Chesterfield cancer treatment transport service launched

A new transport service has been launched to provide people from Chesterfield with free, safe travel to Sheffield hospitals for cancer treatment.

The service has been launched by regional charity Weston Park Cancer Charity and will operate twice daily from Monday to Friday, between The University of Derby’s St Helena Campus in Chesterfield and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals.

The Weston Park Cancer Charity Transport Service could save hundreds of pounds in travel costs each week for people in Chesterfield and the surrounding areas who are living with cancer.

Around 20 per cent of patients at Weston Park Cancer Centre – one of the four hospitals to which the transport service will provide free travel – are from Chesterfield, the equivalent of more than 3,000 patients at any one time and more than 1,300 each year.

The service will follow strict safety measures to keep volunteer drivers and passengers safe at all times. Drivers will all be tested for Covid-19 twice weekly, with buses cleaned thoroughly before every journey.

The launch of the new Transport Service follows Weston Park Cancer Charity’s takeover of Chesterfield cancer charity, Nenna Kind, in 2020. It marks a ’major step forward’ for Weston Park Cancer Charity in its ‘commitment to care in every sense’ for cancer patients and their families in Chesterfield.

Emma Clarke, director of services and grant-giving at Weston Park Cancer Charity said: “Our Transport Service will ensure that people facing cancer will not also have to worry about accessing treatment at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals – and will be able to focus on what’s important.

“A cancer diagnosis is a difficult thing for anyone to hear. But imagine that the recommended treatment is miles away from your home and you have no ability to make that journey. We don’t want anyone to ever have to face the decision to decline treatment because travel to and from their appointments is the barrier.

“The backing of our wonderful supporters enables us to fund this service in its entirety, meaning it’s free of charge for patients.

“It marks a major step forward for us as we look to build on Nenna Kind’s legacy, and to continue our commitment to care in every sense for cancer patients and their families in Chesterfield and the surrounding areas.”

Sheree Hall, Macmillan lead cancer nurse at Chesterfield Royal Hospital, said: “There is enough stress as there is with cancer – going through diagnosis and treatment is one thing, but somebody shouldn’t have to worry about how to get to their treatment in the first place.

“It may appear strange that somebody simply wouldn’t have treatment just because of transport issues, but that does happen. During lockdown, we’ve had a few cases in which individuals have had to contact us because they have no other means of getting to their appointment and simply no money to pay for taxis – and due to Covid-19 there wasn’t even the facility to travel how they might have done before.

“The new Transport Service means a lot and for some people it can be the difference between whether they could have their treatment or not.”

Alison Gibson, community development worker at Community Chesterfield who helped facilitate the scheme, said: “At Community Chesterfield we pride ourselves on connecting the region’s voluntary, community and charitable sectors both with the University of Derby and with one another, opening up opportunities for them to work together to create positive impact in the area.

“After a discussion with one of Weston Park Cancer Charity’s volunteers about the benefits that a transport service of this nature would bring, we are absolutely delighted to help facilitate this vital scheme from our offices at the St Helena Campus. It will without doubt be a huge help to residents of Chesterfield who need to travel to Weston Park to undergo cancer treatment and will hopefully go some way to making their lives during an incredibly challenging time that bit easier.”

Dr Paula Holt MBE, Pro Vice-Chancellor Dean of the College of Health, Psychology and Social Care at the University of Derby, said: “We are delighted to be able to support Weston Park Cancer Charity and, in particular, residents of the Chesterfield area who depend upon this vital service.

“This once again demonstrates the value of our partnership with CommUNIty Chesterfield, who have connected us with the hospital charity.

“The University of Derby is proud to engage with the voluntary sector in the town to deliver projects and services which can make such an important and positive difference to people’s lives.

“In this instance, being able to utilise the current capacity at the St Helena Campus provides a solution to the needs of patients who are travelling to Sheffield to receive treatment.”

For more information or for bookings, call Weston Park Cancer Charity’s helpline 0114 553 3330 (option two) or email transport@wpcancercharity.org.uk.