A PIONEERING cancer research clinic led by a single nurse at the Great Western Hospital has been highly praised by patients.

The service at Osprey Unit was set up in 2009, specifically to assess patients taking part in clinical trials, and remains the only clinical-trial clinic run by an oncology nurse rather than a doctor in the Swindon, Wiltshire and Oxfordshire area.

In a recent survey of the fledgling venture, users commended the clinic and its lead nurse Helen Winter, who monitors patients’ treatment, chemotherapy and their after-effects each week.

Out of the 37 patients who attended the clinic between April 2012 and March 2013, 32 took part in the poll and all rated the service as good or excellent.

A total of 97 per cent also were happy to be entrusted to the care of an oncology nurse rather than a consultant.

The cancer research clinic was created to allow for more trials to be carried out alongside doctor-led services. At the moment the service is focused on gastro-oesophageal patients only.

Helen Winter, GWH trust lead cancer research practitioner, said: “It was initially set up because the number of patients taking part in research was growing and it was quite difficult to accommodate every patient in doctor clinics. We wanted to offer more studies and the only way to do it was to do something new.

“This is the third survey we have done and they’ve all been excellent. Obviously there are areas for improvement. We want to develop our service based on patients’ feedback and we are looking to expand it in the future.”

Although she assesses patients and decides how to proceed with their care, Helen is in contact with a consultant, and if in doubt always seeks a doctor’s expertise.

Despite positive feedback from patients overall, users felt waiting times were still much too long.

Around 41 per cent of the people surveyed complained about waiting to be seen, while nine per cent said they were not even told the clinic was running late.

And 13 per cent were still unsure about the clinic, stating they would have preferred to be received by a doctor.

A GWH spokesman welcomed the survey’s results but pledged to drive improvement and build patients’ confidence in the growing service.

“We are very pleased with the positive results identified in this survey, particularly that 100 per cent of respondents rate the clinic as good or excellent,” he said. “While we are pleased with the overall results of the survey, there are a few areas highlighted where improvements to the service are needed, and we will be working to ensure these are addressed. The survey will be repeated next year.”