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Victoria Newland and Felice Marchetti smallA project helping patients take back control of their lives and speed recovery after treatment for breast, prostate or colorectal cancer has proved so powerful it has secured further funding from Macmillan Cancer Support. It brings Macmillan’s financial commitment to the project to just over £1m and means it will continue to March 2019, by which time it is planned to become an integral part of NHS cancer care within Gloucestershire. 

The Macmillan Next Steps Cancer Rehabilitation project, delivered by Gloucestershire Care Services NHS Trust, comprises a team of dedicated health professionals. They provide one to one support, a suite of group support and education programmes and workshops to give patients knowledge, skills and confidence to encourage self-management and adopt healthy lifestyles, positive health and physical activity. This is backed by a learning and development programme to increase health and social care professionals’ confidence, communication and awareness of the rehabilitation and support needs of people living with and beyond cancer. 

“We’ve learned a lot about what really helps cancer patients to recover quicker and get back on track since we started in 2016,” says Nikki Hawkins, Macmillan consultant allied health professional for the project. “Their feedback about what, how and where the project is delivered is helping to refine and create a service that can be extended to other cancer patients across the whole county.”

“It’s proving to be hugely beneficial for patients, and fits in with the aim for all cancer patients to have access to elements of the national recovery package by 2020,” says Elizabeth Wright, Macmillan’s strategic partnership manager. “Extending the project enables us to cover the whole of the county for breast, prostate and colorectal cancer patients and then complete links with other elements of NHS cancer diagnosis, treatment and care.”

Cancer patient Victoria Newland from Churchdown in Gloucestershire was diagnosed with breast cancer in September 2016 and after chemotherapy, surgery and radiotherapy, she self-referred to the project in June this year. “It was just fantastic. I had finished my main treatment and it’s only then you have time to take stock and breath. All your thought processes had been dealing with the here and now for so long. Then when it goes quiet at end of radiotherapy and you’re not running to appointments – you’re done.

“Then your mind starts to drift. I was down and felt a heavy burden. Then a friend who’d had cancer told me about Next Steps as she had been helped by the project. The Macmillan team took the time to listen to me and what I needed. For example, I went to the HOPE course and met a group of people feeling the same as me, and the relief of understanding what was happening and evolving strategies to get myself back on track was so powerful.”

‘I’ve also benefitted from the physical activity sessions and advice that will help me move forward and do my best to stop cancer recurring. Cancer, for me, does wear you down and Next Steps has provided the toolkit to put myself back together again. The programme is genuinely fantastic”

The project, which has so far helped more than 500 patients, is part of a wider programme of improving cancer care in the county involving Macmillan, Gloucestershire Care Services NHS Trust, NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group and Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. The growth in demand for cancer services will continue to create pressure within our health system. 

“With data showing the current need for these services doubling by 2030, we need to make sure we provide the services cancer patients need to get through their treatment and make the quickest and best recovery possible,” adds Elizabeth Wright. “Next Steps is going to play an important part in that future.”

To find out more about Macmillan Next Steps Cancer Rehabilitation, please click here.

1 December 2017