Forth Valley First in Scotland to Pilot New Cancer Service

NHS Forth Valley is the first NHS Board in Scotland to pilot a new service which provides one-to-one support to cancer patients following treatment. The service, which involves the piloting of two new health roles, is one of 16 projects currently being trialled by Macmillan Cancer Support across the UK as part the wider Transforming Care after Treatment initiative.

The NHS Forth Valley One-to-One Support Service is delivered by Macmillan Community Care Nurses and Healthcare Support Workers who have been recruited to provide one-to-one support to cancer patients after they have completed their treatment.

The Service, which works alongside existing cancer care professionals and forms part of a wider cancer care team, provides an ongoing point of contact and a link to hospital services to help patients, and those close to them, live with and beyond a diagnosis of cancer. By working with patients on an individual basis, the Macmillan Community Care Nurses are able to discuss their concerns and provide assistance to help deal with any financial, emotional or health issues they may have.  They are also able to signpost patients to other services and organisations who can provide support and advice including local money advice services, the Citizen Advice Bureau, cancer charities, carers support organisations and other health services.

There are currently two million people in UK living with and beyond cancer and this number is likely to grow by over 3% every year. Advances in treatments means that people are living longer with cancer and while this is good news, there is also evidence showing that at least a quarter of people have unmet needs following these treatments.

Macmillan believes that a cancer patient’s individual needs are best met through a mix of professionals making up the cancer workforce so people can see the right person, with the right skills and knowledge, at the right time. The pilot in Forth Valley means cancer patients not only have access to a team of cancer specialists but also a dedicated follow up team who can answer questions and provide reassurance, advice and support.

Professor Angela Wallace, NHS Forth Valley’s Director of Nursing, said:

 We are delighted that our health board was selected to participate in this important new project which will significantly enhance the level of support we are able to provide to patients following treatment. It will also help us address the ongoing physical and emotional needs of former patients and ensure they have access to the information and advice they require to lead happier, healthier lives.”

Elspeth Atkinson Director of Macmillan Cancer Support said:

 While many cancer patients receive excellent care and are well supported during treatment, many feel that the after effects of treatment can make it difficult to return to a normal life and both patients and their families need more information and advice to help them prepare for life post treatment.

“With more and more people surviving cancer, and living with the disease as a long term condition, it’s vital that we begin building cancer care teams of the future which reflect these needs. Working with NHS Forth Valley on this pilot project will allow us to develop the cancer care workforce and create a more tailored support for the growing numbers of cancer survivors.”

NHS Forth Valley Nurse Consultant for Cancer and Palliative Care, Sandra Campbell said:

 These new roles build on the cancer services already in place across Forth Valley and enhance the level of dedicated follow up support we are able to provide to patients in their own homes following treatment. In many cases this may simply be answering questions, providing reassurance and making sure they know who to contact for advice. However, the new service also helps us support patients to look after themselves properly and discuss any concerns they may have about their health, finances, career and family.”