Coronavirus (COVID-19): Latest information

We have made the difficult decision to close The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity offices in both the Chelsea and Sutton hospitals due to COVID-19. Our charity team will be working remotely and can be contacted via email - [email protected]. Post sent to the office will be checked once a week.

Purchasing COVID-19 testing equipment to support our patients and staff

Thanks to a generous donation made by The Ralph Lauren Corporate Foundation to The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity, new COVID-19 testing equipment will soon be purchased and installed at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust.

COVID-19 presents an especially challenging risk for cancer patients, who are often immunocompromised as a result of their treatment.

Purchasing testing equipment enables us to find out sooner whether patients have the virus or not and ensure they are cared for in the most appropriate way. It means that those who are infected can be quickly identified and isolated. Faster testing also means that frontline NHS staff who immediately isolated after displaying symptoms or are isolating because someone they live with is showing symptoms, can be tested and return to work if they do not have the virus. Any staff who tested positive will remain in self-isolation as per guidelines.

patient and radiographers
Image taken prior to COVID-19

Testing for patients and staff across London

Testing will be for staff and patients at The Royal Marsden as well as patients referred from the newly formed Cancer Hub, and staff from other hospitals who are involved in their care, will also receive access to testing. These measures will help to alleviate pressure on staffing across cancer care in London.

This specialised hub is being led by The Royal Marsden, University College London Hospitals and Guys and St Thomas’s Hospitals, and is supported by local and independent hospitals.

Testing will start shortly after the equipment is delivered and installed, approximately mid-end May. Tests will be carried out on a ‘Cepheid GeneExpert 16-16’ (GX 16-16), with results taking approximately two to four hours.

In the meantime, The Royal Marsden will continue testing staff and patients as per current guidelines, including staff testing as recently announced at The Francis Crick Institute.

scientist with microscope
Image taken prior to COVID-19

A long-standing relationship

Testing equipment has been funded thanks to a generous donation from The Ralph Lauren Corporate Foundation.

The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity has a long-standing relationship with Ralph Lauren; the Ralph Lauren Centre for Breast Cancer Research was established thanks to  supporters of The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity, including a generous donation from Ralph Lauren.

Nurse in hall with a child patient
Image taken prior to COVID-19

In addition to the donation for the testing equipment, Ralph Lauren will help raise funds to support the COVID-19 emergency appeal launched by The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity. Funds from this appeal will provide support to frontline staff at The Royal Marsden, to ensure cancer patients can continue to receive life-saving care, including digital resources to enable remote models of care and psychological support for staff and patients.

Ralph Lauren, in partnership with The Conduit, has also launched a campaign to provide thousands of meals for frontline NHS staff, with support from GAIL's bakery and catering company Rocket. Ready-prepared meals and loaves of bread are being distributed to staff at The Royal Marsden each week

Providing critical help

The Ralph Lauren Centre for Breast Cancer Research is also now being utilised as a critical facility for the hospital in which biochemical sample analysis takes place. This is an essential process as part of standard cancer treatment and now requires a specialised environment to be analysed, due to the risk of COVID-19 being present in the specimen.

Professor Mitch Dowsett, Head of the Ralph Lauren Centre for Breast Cancer Research at The Royal Marsden, who has helped to lead the procurement of the testing equipment said:

 “Thanks to The Ralph Lauren Corporate Foundation and The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity, we can bring COVID-19 testing in-house, increasing the volume of NHS staff, and cancer patients across London, that can be tested and significantly speeding up the turnaround of results.”

Antonia Dalmahoy, Managing Director of The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity, said:

“We are incredibly thankful to Ralph Lauren and The Ralph Lauren Corporate Foundation for their ongoing commitment to supporting the Charity and The Royal Marsden. This, along with our emergency appeal, ensures we can continue to provide critical help to staff and patients – at The Royal Marsden and across London - at a time when they need it most.”

Moving forward after coronavirus

Importantly the testing machine will also be used after the COVID-19 pandemic. It has a lifespan of approximately ten years, and so will be a vital asset to The Royal Marsden beyond this initial demand for COVID-19. It can test for a multitude of other infections. These tests are vital in a cancer hospital for infection prevention and control, and pre-theatre screening.

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