Cancer services

What is cancer services? The Seamoor Unit Acute Oncology Service Fern Centre

What is cancer services?

Oncology is the branch of medicine dedicated to cancer diagnosis and treatment. At the North Devon District Hospital, we refer to these and the haemato-oncology services as cancer services. Cancer Services deal with identifying the different cancer types a person may have and the therapy or cancer treatments they may require. Collectively these treatments are referred to as Systemic Anti-Cancer Therapies or SACT, and include chemotherapy, immunotherapy, hormonal, biological and targeted therapies and radiotherapy

The oncology and cancer treatment services at the North Devon District Hospital work in partnership with Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, our neighbouring healthcare trust, where all radiotherapy and some site specific oncology patients travel to for treatment. We have to do this for the radiotherapy patients as there are no facilities for this at our hospital but for other treatments using resources within the South West Peninsula is to ensure that we provide the very best treatments and technologies to care for our cancer patients.

At the North Devon District Hospital we are continually looking at how we can improve the medical treatment and healthcare of cancer patients, and make best use of the medical staff and cancer treatment facilities we have. The Seamoor Unit is a purpose built SACT centre and outpatient facility which provides outstanding treatment, care and support for the people of North Devon and parts of north Cornwall. Please see the Seamoor Unit for more details.

Cancer care is provided by a multidisciplinary team that can include oncologists, other doctors, nurses, clinical nurse specialists, dietitians, radiologists, pathologists, pharmacists and administrative staff.

For more information, please see the cancer services webpage

The Seamoor Unit

Seamoor UnitThe Seamoor Unit is a chemotherapy and medical day treatment unit at North Devon District Hospital – the most remote acute hospital in mainland England. Situated in Barnstaple, the Unit provides cancer treatment for the people of North Devon and North Cornwall covering an area of 800 square miles and serving a population in excess of 160,000. This long awaited cancer centre treats up to 40 patients a day and was purpose built in 2015 with the generosity and support of the local people and businesses.

The Seamoor Unit also holds the oncology and haematology outpatient clinics and is usually a hive of activity in the waiting area especially in the mornings.

The Acute Oncology Service, based on the Seamoor Unit, is a team of dedicated nurses who look after patients if they become acutely unwell during the course of their SACT treatment or as a result of their cancer. They are the nurses that you will speak to if you telephone the emergency number during the day. The nurses also see cancer patients on the ward and often act as the liaison between the medical teams and the patient. They will make sure the patient is not kept in hospital for any longer than needed or that that they subject to any unnecessary tests or scans. Please see the Acute Oncology Service for more details.

For more information, please see the Seamoor Unit webpage

Acute Oncology Service

bird of preyThe Acute Oncology Service (AOS) is based on the Seamoor Unit where the nurses have their own triage room and access to two other rooms to treat and observe acutely unwell patients. The room looks out on to the well-stocked garden where this magnificent sculpture of an eagle is a permanent feature.

Acute Oncology focuses on the management of patients with complications of their cancer diagnosis   or treatment, and the management of patients with an acute new cancer diagnosis. The principal role of the Acute Oncology Service is to:

  • define the most clinically appropriate care pathway
  • improve patient experience
  • communicate with and signpost to appropriate specialist advice and services
  • provide training and education within the healthcare setting

Systemic Anti-Cancer Therapy (SACT) can temporarily reduce your ability to fight infection. If you are feeling unwell or struggling at home when on systemic anti-cancer therapy (SACT) you should contact the 24/7 helpline number below.

If you suddenly feel unwell and your temperature is above 37.5 ̊C (99 ̊F)/below 36 ̊C (96.8 ̊F) or if you do not have a temperature but you are feeling unwell you may have neutropenic sepsis.

Infections can develop rapidly and it is essential that you DO NOT DELAY in contacting the Acute Oncology Team. To assist the helpline can you please have the following information available when you call:

  • Patient NHS number
  • The type of cancer treatment you’re currently receiving
  • Your temperature – either oral or ear as you may be asked for this during the assessment

You will either be put straight through to the nurses or your telephone number will be taken and a brief description of the reason for telephoning. The nurses will return your call when they are free. The problem may be resolved by the nurses over the telephone but you might be asked to come into the Unit or to go straight to A&E if it is more urgent.

Monday – Friday 08.00 -18.00hrs – Seamoor Unit Reception Desk on 01271 311579

For overnight and weekend calls there is an Out of Hours Service:

Out of Hours Service – 01271 322577 and ask for Bleep 500

For more information, please see the Acute Oncology webpage

Fern Centre

fern centreThe Fern Centre opened in 2020 and built with funds raised  by the Over & Above hospital charity and is located in the grounds of the North Devon District Hospital, within walking distance of the Seamoor Unit. It offers information and support to those affected by cancer as well as their families by offering a warm, welcoming environment providing comfort and care away from the clinical setting.

The Centre is the hub for support group meetings, counselling and financial advice. For  professional  bra and wig fittings look no further as these private, no obligation appointments, are free and based at the centre too. The popular Look Good Feel Better workshops are scheduled on a regular basis and there is also the opportunity for cancer patients to try one of the complimentary therapies on offer.

The Centre offers you a warm welcome so drop-in and pay us a visit – one of our friendly volunteers will be happy to help you find the information or support you may need or just offer you a hot drink and a chat.

Centre Contact Information:

Centre Manager – Tasmin Andrew

Telephone number 01271 311 855

Email address –

For more information, please see the Fern Centre section on the Over and Above website


Last updated: August 14, 2020