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New £1.7 Million cancer support service comes to Lanarkshire

Published: Thursday, 21 March 2024

New £1.7 Million cancer support service comes to Lanarkshire

A new cancer support service comes to Lanarkshire

A new service ensuring cancer patients are offered emotional, practical and financial support was officially launched in Lanarkshire yesterday (Wednesday, 20 March) as part of a successful model spreading around Scotland.

Macmillan Cancer Support, both North and South Lanarkshire University Health & Social Care Partnerships, and VANL and VASLAN are working with a range of partners across Lanarkshire to make sure local people affected by cancer can access the help they need – via just one call or email.

The launch event was kicked off by X-Factor star Nicholas McDonald before guests saw videos of a clinician reflecting on the cancer nurse specialist service and heard from one of patients and carers who have been going through the service.

Speakers from Macmillan Cancer Support, both health and social care partnerships, VASLAN and VANL focused on how the organisations will work together to deliver services that will make a positive impact for people who have been newly diagnosed with cancer.

Anyone affected by cancer, including family members and carers, can access the new Lanarkshire Macmillan Improving the Cancer Journey Service at any stage from diagnosis to beyond treatment.

The service will become part of Lanarkshire’s cancer pathway offering all people newly diagnosed with cancer a meeting with a dedicated one-to-one support worker/specialist. They will then help the person access a wide range of non-clinical supports, from benefits advice and emotional support to help at home or with other practical needs.

Macmillan Cancer Support has invested £1.7 Million into the project, which will see the Lanarkshire health and social care partnerships and voluntary sector organisations working together to provide a seamless, accessible and personal support for people affected by cancer.

There were approximately 4,300 people diagnosed with cancer in Lanarkshire in 2022 and this is expected to increase by 33% over the next five to 10 years.

Chris Syme from Hamilton is currently going through the Improving the Cancer Journey. He said: “I would certainly recommend the service to anyone going through cancer treatment. From my first conversation with my link worker Natalie I could tell she was a good person.

“She listened to everything I said and she was sympathetic and empathetic. I felt comfortable talking to her about my life and we quickly built up a rapport. I can’t speak highly enough about her dedication. She worked with my cancer nurse specialist regarding my housing and compiled reports for other organisations and further support.

“I’ve found the emotional support side of it is just as important, especially when I hadn’t told a lot of people about my cancer. Natalie is frequently in touch with me to let me know how things are progressing which means I’m not waiting on hearing updates. That takes away another layer of worry.”

Professor Ross McGuffie, chief officer, University Health & Social Care North Lanarkshire, said: “Advances in treatment mean that more people than ever are surviving cancer. It also means people living with cancer are living longer, often with long-term effects of treatment or other health conditions that have a huge impact on health, wellbeing and independence. Many of them don't know where to go for help coping with the non-medical effects of the illness.

“This new service is designed to help people right across Lanarkshire by supporting them and their loved ones. This can take the form of emotional support or advice on financial matters; it’s entirely designed to focus on what the person feels is important to them.”

Professor Soumen Sengupta, chief officer for South Lanarkshire University HSCP, said: "Our health and social care staff, along with our community partners, are frequently supporting individuals and families during their most vulnerable and challenging moments in life.

“The launch of the ICJ is a further demonstration of our ongoing commitment to collaboration, compassion - and delivering the right care in the right place at the right time.

“These are challenging times for health and social care, which makes it all the more important that all partners involved in the ICJ are resolute and united by the common goal of ensuring quality of life for people who are on this journey, from diagnosis onwards.”

Macmillan's Head of Partnerships for Scotland & Northern Ireland, Janice Preston said: “Cancer has a huge impact on every aspect of people's lives and many people tell us they don't know where to turn for help. This new service should make sure everyone with cancer and their families and carers across North and South Lanarkshire have someone to call on for help.

“Improving the Cancer Journey practitioners will help individuals to identify their needs and access expert support, from benefits advice to emotional support – whatever they might need. We hope this service will transform cancer support in Lanarkshire.

“It’s thanks to the continued support from people locally, who fundraise for us and donate so generously, that we are able to fund this vital new service. With their help we can make a huge difference to the lives of people affected by cancer in Lanarkshire.”

Alice Callander, lung cancer clinical nurse specialist, NHS Lanarkshire, said: “Prior to ICJ being implemented in Lanarkshire, patients had limited support in the community unless they were particularly complex and under specialist teams. Now with ICJ, all patients have access to the same support. There is a wealth of community services that ICJ can link patients with that take into account the holistic needs of a cancer patient.

“I know from patient feedback that they feel reassured having support from 'Macmillan'. It is also reassuring for us knowing we can proceed with our clinical duties knowing our patients are well supported."

The project is open to everyone aged 18 and over living with cancer regardless of their cancer type or where they live in Lanarkshire. To find out more about the Lanarkshire Macmillan Improving the Cancer Journey service call 01698 201610 or email icjadmin@vaslan.org.uk