Milestone reached in cancer recovery at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital

Macmillan recovery package team. Photo: NNUH

Macmillan recovery package team. Photo: NNUH - Credit: NNUH

A project supporting cancer patients at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) has reached a milestone this month by assessing its 500th patient.

Since January, staff have been using tools from the Cancer Recovery Package to support patients by improving the advice and information they receive from diagnosis, during their treatment journey, and after they finish treatment.

NNUH's Integrated Care Pathway Project Team, funded by Macmillan Cancer Support, was established to assess patient's individual needs and signpost them to support at key points in their cancer journey.

The team, which is made up of five Macmillan integrated care practitioners and a project manager, has been contacting patients shortly after their diagnosis to carry out a holistic needs assessment. This involves looking at all aspects of the patient's life and working with them to ensure their physical, emotional, social, practical and spiritual needs are met.

Pamela Everett, Macmillan integrated care practitioner, said: 'As part of my role, I work with the skin and head and neck cancer teams and provide specialist information and signposting to those patients who have recently been diagnosed with cancer. Since the project launch, we've been able to enhance the support of these patients at various stages in their cancer journey. For example, I contact head and neck patients after they have had surgery. Commonly, patients tell me they find it difficult to eat, so I am able to source and post Macmillan recipe books, which they find really helpful.'

The team is also making improvements to the information which is shared with patients and their GPs once treatment has finished, ensuring they are told about possible short and longer-term side effects of treatments, and who to contact following the end of treatment.

The team is working to encourage a supported self-management approach, which gives patients the knowledge and confidence to manage their wellbeing and lifestyles after cancer, and to avoid unnecessary follow-up visits to the hospital.

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The team is working with organisations such as Active Norfolk and Public Health England to promote healthy lifestyles and physical and mental wellbeing during and after cancer.

Mr Vivekanandan Kumar, urology consultant and cancer lead for NNUH, said: 'Nationally there is evidence patients who receive extra help to manage the impact of cancer on their lives have a better experience and may achieve better long-term health outcomes. We treat 6,000 cancer patients each year who can potentially benefit from this extra support and we are delighted to be working in partnership with Macmillan Cancer Support.'

Macmillan partnership lead, Sally Legge, added: 'It's wonderful to see so many people accessing this type of support. More and more people are living longer with cancer and we need to explore better ways to support patients to live well after a cancer diagnosis.

'The Macmillan Recovery Package is a series of key interventions which we know can greatly improve outcomes for people living with cancer. We're thrilled to be working with NNUH to ensure people in Norfolk receive the support they need, when they need it.'

The Macmillan integrated care pathway project team's work is in addition to the support provided to patients during their treatment by the clinical team and specialist nurses who are in regular contact with patients about aspects of their treatment and wellbeing. The two-year project is working with teams for patients with colorectal, urological, skin, head and neck and upper GI cancers. At the end of the project, the results will be evaluated with a view to integrating the project as part of the NNUH Cancer Strategy in the longer term.