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Macmillan Cancer Support are reporting that thousands more people living with cancer across the region are accessing care and support because of a new approach to cancer care. 

These findings from the Macmillan Living With And Beyond Cancer Programme interim evaluation show that year on year more people diagnosed with cancer across the region are being signposted to appropriate cancer care and support. 

People diagnosed with cancer are offered a meaningful conversation about their needs with a healthcare professional, and signposted to appropriate local support.   Whereas previously support may have been ad-hoc there is now a standardised regional approach to understanding a person’s needs and knowing where to get help. 

This year alone around 4,500 meaningful conversations with people who have cancer have taken place and this figure is expected to rise.  

Richard Metcalfe is the Macmillan Programme Manager, he said:
“Four years ago, our aim was to ensure that anyone diagnosed with cancer across the region would be able to access personalised care and support. 

“This aim goes far beyond offering a one size fits all solution, this is about having a meaningful conversation with that person, understanding their specific needs and signposting them to local support networks. 

“The meaningful conversation, helps healthcare professionals to explore issues they wouldn’t have normally touched on.

“It’s a simple idea but one that requires an enormous amount of coordination and enthusiasm across health, care, community and voluntary services to enable different ways of working. 

“Our evaluation is pointing to the fact that this large-scale collaboration is starting to show real benefits for people living with cancer.” 

People living with cancer were interviewed as part of the evaluation and all reported that they had some opportunity to discuss their needs, worries or concerns.  The personalised approach to cancer care uncovered that the things that people were commonly talking to healthcare staff about like treatment concerns, money worries or tiredness, were not usually the issues that people worry about the most. 

The issues that people ranked as most worrying were those around family, relationships and emotional concerns. These issues are now widely identified through meaningful conversations with healthcare professionals and local support can be recommended.  

The cancer care workforce

The introduction of new Macmillan funded roles, as part of the programme, has demonstrated an enormous impact on the cancer care workforce. Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNSs), the nurses who support patients throughout their cancer experience, report an increase in their confidence because of the extra support. 

The programme has funded 34 Macmillan Cancer Support Workers across the programme area, this role takes on the non-clinical tasks so CNSs can focus on more clinically complex patients.  

Significantly the evaluation found that CNSs reported improvements in workload, stress levels and job satisfaction because of the additional capacity created by the new roles. 

Paul McCavana, is Macmillan’s Head of Services for the North, he said:  

“The impact of the Macmillan programme on healthcare professionals is encouraging. 

“The programme covers a huge geographical area; the evaluation findings indicate that healthcare professionals and organisations involved are more coordinated and joined up in providing care and support to improve patient experience.    

 “This is a fantastic example of how Macmillan is working with the NHS, care, community and voluntary sectors to support and enhance the capacity and expertise of our cancer workforce.” 

The Macmillan Living With And Beyond Cancer Programme runs until March 2021, there are learning and development opportunities for healthcare professionals working in Barnsley, Bassetlaw, Doncaster, North Derbyshire, Rotherham, Sheffield and Wakefield throughout Autumn 2019, contact Rachel Gora for more information. 

The second interim programme evaluation report will be delivered in March 2020, with the final evaluation report delivered in September 2020. For more information email Richard Metcalfe, Macmillan Programme Manager. 

Read the Macmillan Living With And Beyond Cancer Programme interim evaluation report.  

About the Macmillan Living With And Beyond Cancer Programme 

The Macmillan Living With And Beyond Cancer Programme is a partnership programme between Macmillan Cancer Support and the South Yorkshire, Bassetlaw and North Derbyshire Cancer Alliance, it has been running for four years.  The aim of the Macmillan Living With And Beyond Cancer Programme is to ensure that people diagnosed with cancer are receiving personalised care and support which is appropriate to their specific needs.   The Macmillan programme covers Barnsley, Bassetlaw, Doncaster, North Derbyshire, Rotherham, Sheffield and Wakefield. The area includes seven Clinical Commissioning Groups, six Acute Hospital Trusts and a population of around two million people.