Belfast Telegraph

Patient welcomes new post-cancer support

by Fiona Rutherford

A south Belfast woman has welcomed a new £1m initiative to help cancer patients get their lives back on track after their treated has ended.

Teresa Majury, who was diagnosed with kidney cancer two years ago, is backing the new initiative which will see Macmillan Cancer Support invest £1 million over two years on projects to improve services to cancer patients after treatment.

Ways of helping patients to get their lives back on track by providing better information and support will be explored. Ensuring that patients get more out of any follow up clinics they have scheduled is also being considered.

Teresa, 46, hopes that the result of the pilot projects will be to simplify the way patients access the follow up care they receive after their initial treatment ends.

She said: "Every time I have to go to the hospital for a follow up appointment it drains me. I don’t like creating a fuss but the thought of having to struggle my way through the system is so exhausting — especially when it’s just for a four minute chat and a blood test.

"I feel like there needs to be more effort to treat people as individuals and to help us access information and support that is right for us as individuals. I also think I would feel like less of a burden if I had a single point of contact, like a nurse, who could address any queries I had about my condition."

Health Minister Michael McGimpsey announced the initiative — a partnership between Macmillan and the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety last Monday, and the following day, health service providers gathered to debate new models of care.

Bids for pilot projects will now be sought from health care providers and Macmillan, in partnership with the regional health and social care board, will support those with the potential to transform the long term care of patients.

Macmillan Cancer Support chief executive Ciaran Devane said: "In Northern Ireland, there are more than 55,000 people living with the consequences of a cancer diagnosis and this number is set to increase as treatments improve and the population ages.

"We know that patients often feel abandoned after their treatment has ended. They feel unprepared and need more information about what to expect.

"We also need to move away from the current model of follow-up which focuses solely on physical symptoms and illness to one that focuses on health and well-being."

Mr McGimpsey welcomed the initiative: “Many people who have treatment for cancer can now expect many years of life ahead. I’m confident that this initiative and the pilot projects that will flow from it will bring new and innovative ways of supporting patients and their carers and ensuring they benefit from an increased quality of life.

“I am grateful to Macmillan for their support of this work which will be taken forward in partnership with my Department and the HSC."

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