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Primrose Unit (Oncology)

MQEM logoIn the UK, nearly 300,000 people are diagnosed with cancer every year. There is a lifetime risk of developing cancer of one in three people. Enormous improvement in early diagnosis and cure has been improved through research/clinical research over recent years.

In Bedford, breast, colorectal, lung, and prostate cancers account for about 50% of all cancer diagnoses in both men and women. For more information about cancer, or to see research conducted by Prof. Robert Thomas and the research team at Bedford Hospital, please visit www.cancernet.co.uk.

The Primrose Unit

The oncology services at Bedford Hospital are based in the dedicated on
Primrose Unitcology unit: The Primrose Unit, which was funded by Bedford Hospitals Charity, in liaison with Macmillan Cancer Support and opened in 2003.

The unit provides a full complement of high quality, clinical and support services and is a cancer treatment unit with facilities to treat a wide range of cancers areas including breast, colorectal, lung, prostate, gastric, lymphoma and gynaecology. The Primrose unit team is made up of three consultants, a clinical oncology assistant, nurse specialists and a nursing team, all of whom work very closely with other departments within Bedford Hospital and with the radiology centre at Addenbrooke’s Hospital to ensure a multi disciplinary approach to patient care and to offer a truly holistic service to all patients at each stage of their cancer journey.

Our Services

The Primrose unit houses Bedford Hospital’s outpatient oncology service for cancer patients. New and follow-up patients with cancer are seen in one of the twelve clinics each week.

Chemotherapy, monoclonal antibody therapy and other anti-neoplastic agents are administered daily in the purpose built suite in the primrose unit by one of our eight specialist chemotherapy nurses, and supported by a phlebotomist in the unit. It has facilities for diagnostic outpatient interventional procedures and therapeutic interventions.

The chemotherapy suite offers daily sessions (during weekdays), for oncology patients and shared care for haematology patients and is attached to the outpatient clinic area allowing the nursing staff to work closely with all of the consultants, ensuring a first class, seamless service for all the patients. The primrose unit has its own phlebotomy service and a cancer information and support centre.

A scalp cooling system is also available which can be used to minimise chemotherapy induced alopecia. The unit also provides a PICC line service and 24hr telephone support line for chemotherapy patients. The unit also houses the palliative care team, and the clinical research team.

Patients requiring radiotherapy have their treatment carried out at Addenbrooke’s hospital in Cambridge. Patients requiring surgery and other interventions are discussed in one of the six multidisciplinary team meetings which are held each week, some of which are teleconferenced to the cancer centre in Cambridge and other centers in the Anglia Cancer Network.

Cancer Information and Support Service

The Macmillan Cancer Information and Support Centre was developed as a joint venture between Macmillan and the Primrose Oncology unit at Bedford Hospital in 2004, to ensure that people affected by cancer have access to comprehensive, appropriate information and support.

The centre is open from 9am–6pm Monday to Friday.

The service offers:

  • A drop in service for a wide range of information and support
  • Health, financial and life management advice
  • Referral to other healthcare professionals
  • Details of local and national support services and organisations
  • Details about complementary therapies and outreach sessions in the community

Contact number 01234 792667

Macmillan Cancer and palliative care psychology service

We are a specialist confidential psychological support service for patients and families affected by cancer, covering Luton and Bedfordshire. We offer consultations in a range of locations, including within the Bedford Primrose unit, Luton and Dunstable Hospital and in non-hospital locations within Bedford, Luton and Dunstable.

Meet the team

Dr Sara Rassool – Macmillan Consultant Clinical Psychologist

Marie Browne – Macmillan Family Psychotherapist

Dr Mary Keilty – Macmillan Clinical Psychologist

Matt Hopton – Macmillan Specialist Psychotherapist

Dr Emma Cassidy-Ingles – Macmillan Clinical Psychologist

Our team focus exclusively on cancer and palliative care. We receive referrals from members of the clinical team for people with any cancer diagnosis, at any stage of their care, with any cancer-related psychological difficulties. We also welcome relatives, partners and carers to be referred.

How can I be referred?

Please talk to your clinical nurse specialist or key professional involved in your care (eg oncologist, chemotherapy practitioner, community Macmillan nurse) about being referred to the service.

For information please see our patient leaflet here.

Breast and Bowel Cancer Centre

In May 2010, a dedicated breast and bowel cancer centre was created to offer patients a ‘one stop’ service. The purpose built facility contains diagnostic and clinical facilities meaning that patients with suspected breast or bowel cancer can have diagnostic tests, results and consultations in the same place and in many cases, on the same day.

The new centre makes the service more efficient and convenient for anxious patients, and means that any treatment required can begin as soon as possible. The new clinic also creates extra capacity which will reduce waiting times for patients with suspected breast or bowel cancer.


Lead Cancer Nurse: Yvonne Jeffs

Cancer Manager: Karen Jackson

There are six oncology consultants each covering their specialised areas.

  • Professor Robert Thomas – Breast / Prostate / Bowel
  • Dr Ramesh Bulusu – Lung / UGI / Lymphoma
  • Dr Sarah Smith – Breast / Gynae / Colorectal
  • Dr Athar Ahmad
  • Dr Aslam
  • Dr Penny McNamara – Palliative Care
  • Dr Tejal Shah – Palliative Care

To find out more about the consultants at Bedford Hospital please visit the about my consultant pages.

Clinical Nurse Specialists

Clinical nurse specialists are highly qualified and experienced cancer nurses. They work closely with other health care professionals to provide information about the disease, possible side effects and treatment.

Breast cancer: Bridget Ashdown, Janet Lake, Sarah Higgens and Yvette Martin
Colorectal cancer and stoma care: Karen Richards and Karen Belfield-Cockings
Oncology dietician: Hannah Weir
Lung cancer: Yvonne Jeffs, Sue Jessop and Rebecca Tellwright (community lung cancer nurse)
Upper gastro-intestinal tract: Eleanor Church
Urological: Maureen Daly, Graham Smith and Niamh Lynch
Chemotherapy: Anne Leigh and Helen Cawood
Lymphoma: Jenna Morgans
Gynae Nurse – Gail Burgess

Research team

Madeleine Williams
Anne Willis
Laura Kelly
Deborah Pearson

Chemotherapy Team

Julie Rowley– Manager
Sue O’Connor – Chemotherapy Nurse
Sue Ashton – Chemotherapy Nurse
Wendy Cox – Chemotherapy Nurse
Ashleigh Quick – Chemotherapy Nurse
Neil McKay – Chemotherapy Nurse
Jenna Rowley – Chemotherapy Nurse
Laura Breacher – Chemotherapy Nurse
Julie Rowley – Chemotherapy Nurse
Andrea Scammell – Chemotherapy Nurse
Keshia Gabriel – Chemotherapy Co-ordinator
Caroline Barclay – Acute Oncology Nurse

Laura Gillespie – Acute Oncology Nurse

Blood tests

Nikki Lander

Clinic Staff

Bridget Duggan

Reception team

Dabinder Nar, Margaret Noon, Mark Birken, Cecelia Nutt and Clare Pallister

Contact Us

To change or cancel an outpatient or chemotherapy appointment please ring the Primrose unit reception on (01234) 792652, call the hospital switchboard on (01234) 355122 ext. 2350. For chemotherapy appointments, contact 01234 792651 or via the hospital switchboard on (01234) 355122 ext. 2332.