Last month I touched on the important subject of cancer survivorship in Doncaster and how more and more of us are now living with the disease after early diagnosis and treatment.
It’s a theme I’m returning to again today as there is a lot happening across the borough that needs celebrating.
The NHS is key to identifying, diagnosing and treating people with cancer as soon as possible but there are other organisations that have an equally important role to play in helping survivors move forward with their lives, including charities and voluntary organisations.
On the whole, Doncaster’s cancer survivors tell us they are pleased with their clinical treatment but they still have many issues to face in managing their lives after treatment. I know from discussions with my own patients how important it is for them to regain control of their lives after battling such a serious illness.
Macmillan Cancer Support, who are doing some tremendous work in Doncaster alongside NHS, local authority and voluntary organisations, have spent a lot of time talking to cancer survivors to find out what is important to them. Their research found that wider issues, such as money, employment, information, support, health and wellbeing, hospital discharge, carer wellbeing, and communication between the professionals they have contact with can all have a major impact on their lives as they try to get back to a sense of normality.
The Doncaster Cancer Survivorship programme is helping make life better on a number of fronts, including: Macmillan funding is paying for the redesign and expanding role of the current St John’s Information Centre which is housed alongside Balby’s St John’s Hospice. This is becoming the survivorship ‘hub’ for referrals, providing people with valuable motivation, information, signposting and advice, plus arranging onward referrals to specialist organisations or groups. The centre is forging close ties with New Horizons, a community based organisation that provides welfare and benefits advice. Cancer Buddies has around 40 volunteers who provide important emotional support to people who have been on a cancer journey. Providing employers with the information and resources they need to better support cancer survivors to stay in their jobs or return to work. Running workshops to raise the profile of survivorship to help survivors take back control of their lives
I’m delighted town doctors like me are also now benefiting from the expertise of two GPs who have been trained and funded by Macmillan to focus on cancer survivorship. Dr David Crighton, from Bentley Surgery, and Dr Melanie Hinchliffe, from Askern’s Lakeside Practice, are visiting practices across the borough to raise awareness and provide GPs with advice and information.
Doncaster is leading the way in so many ways.
* Nick Tupper, chairman of Doncaster clinical commissioning group