Published Wednesday 20 August 2014 at 9:35
A partnership of local health organisations have announced a one million pound investment to radically transform cancer care in the area.
The Macmillan Cancer Improvement Partnership in East Lancashire and Blackburn with Darwen is a pioneering three year programme to provide better care and support for cancer patients from the moment of diagnosis to beyond treatment.
The project is being set up to address the high cancer incidence and mortality rate in the area. In some parts of East Lancashire the premature cancer mortality rate is 40% higher than the national average, with 10% more cancer diagnoses in some areas than elsewhere in the country.
The figures have been attributed to a range of factors – from how soon people go to their doctor with symptoms, to lifestyle choices such as exercise and smoking, as well as post-treatment care – and these will be the main focus of the Partnership’s work.
Comprising of Macmillan Cancer Support, NHS East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), NHS Blackburn with Darwen Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust and Lancashire County Council, the partnership aims to embed best practice within all aspects of cancer care across primary, acute and community settings.
The project will create new services and invest in enhancing existing services to create excellence and equality of care across the region.
This will include working closely with all 90 GP practices in the area to improve cancer awareness and early diagnosis.
The partnership will also invest in a package of support to empower cancer patients to take charge of their own care when treatment ends to ensure they stay healthy. This work will start with people with breast cancer before being rolled out to people with other cancer types and will include changes to support and follow up processes including telephone support and health and wellbeing clinics.
The community care element of the project will help people affected by cancer live a full and healthy life before, during and after treatment through a physical activity programme and a cancer information and support service based in the heart of the community providing practical and emotional support.
A Macmillan Solutions service will also provide much needed practical and emotional support to people affected by cancer and their families.
Jeremy Such, Macmillan Development Manager for Lancashire, said:
“I’m very excited about this partnership and the project we’re undertaking to transform cancer care in East Lancashire and Blackburn with Darwen. The project will provide better care and support for people affected by cancer at every stage, from the moment of diagnosis, through treatment and beyond. We want to improve outcomes for patients and deliver a better patient experience so that no one faces cancer alone.”
Dr Neil Smith, Macmillan GP for NHS Blackburn with Darwen CCG, said:
“We are trying to focus this Macmillan Cancer Improvement Partnership on factors that will have an impact on patient care and wellbeing. We know that if we can help people change their lifestyle and diagnose cancer sooner, they are more likely to survive cancer. More people are living longer with and beyond cancer. The challenge ahead it to ensure this growing number of cancer survivors continue to stay healthy after treatment ends. The Macmillan project will address these issues and help to improve outcomes for people affected by cancer in East Lancashire and Blackburn with Darwen.”
Dominic Harrison, Director of Public Health in Blackburn with Darwen, said:
“Cancer used to be seen as a death sentence – due to improvements in diagnosis, treatment and care we now see it more as a long term condition. Provided people get an early diagnosis, life expectancy for most people with cancer can be dramatically improved. This project will help us do that together.”
The project aims to support people like Sarah Johnson, 29, from Accrington, who was diagnosed with cervical cancer after her first smear test at the age of 25. She’s since had a hysterectomy to prevent the cancer from returning.
An early diagnosis saved her life, however many others aren’t so lucky and Sarah has since been raising awareness of the importance of early detection and regular screening. She is supporting the partnership’s work as a patient representative.
“Yes I had cancer, however I am very lucky that it was discovered so early. I often share my story via social media sites to encourage women to keep up to date with cervical screening. I have had countless of ladies contacting me, telling me that because of my story they booked their smear. I am passionate to improve screening update and I believe it can be done which is why I’m supporting the Macmillan Cancer Improvement partnership. I am living proof that cervical screening works.”
If you’re affected by cancer and need information or support, call 0808 808 00 00 or visit www.macmillan.org.uk