Jan Chalkley, the Macmillan Deputy Head of Nursing for Cancer and Palliative Care at Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, says the Macmillan-funded cohort of cancer support workers will complement the care provided by specialist cancer nursing teams at Bedford and Luton Hospitals.
A Macmillan Support Worker remains a key point of contact for patients as they progress through treatment and beyond.
> act as a point of contact for support and information direct medical queries to the right person
> point patients to the right guidance and support resources as they go through treatment and recovery
> signpost to welfare benefits and psychology services
> chat to patients about new concerns or worries.
Jan said: “Covid-19 restrictions may have lifted, but the stress of living with cancer has not. Many patients still feel anxious about catching the virus with a weakened immune system, while the rising cost of living means more people are struggling to cover the additional costs of cancer. These factors are combining with the everyday impact of cancer to make life very challenging for patients and their families.
“An additional level of personalised support has been urgently needed, and the Macmillan support workers are providing exactly that.”
The new posts are split across the Trust’s Bedford and Luton Hospital sites to give newly diagnosed cancer patients and those living with cancer access to an enhanced level of support, whilst relieving pressure on nursing teams with the heaviest caseloads.
It represents one of a series of investments undertaken by Macmillan Cancer Support in the county over the last few years, where the charity has put more than £520,000 towards creating new healthcare roles.
Of the five Macmillan Support Workers recruited, three are supporting the lung, breast, haematology and colorectal nursing teams in Luton, while the final two are working alongside breast, head and neck, and lung cancer nurse specialists in Bedford.
Jan added: “By dedicating more resource at an earlier stage to each patient’s all-round care, the hope is that we’ll quickly anticipate any wider issues they might experience and put in place the help they need to prevent these taking over.”