National award for woman who researched experiences of Luton cancer patients

Kathy at the awards. Picture: Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Integrated Care BoardKathy at the awards. Picture: Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Integrated Care Board
Kathy at the awards. Picture: Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Integrated Care Board
The awards scheme champions the importance of recognising Black, Asian and minority ethnic talent and innovation

An NHS worker who researched the experience of people living with cancer in Luton has been recognised with a national award for innovation.

Kathy Nelson, head of the cancer network for Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Integrated Care System, was named as the ‘Ground-breaking Researcher’ at the National Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Health and Care Awards last night (September 28).

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Kathy was nominated for her role in setting up an innovative research programme into cancer outcomes in Luton. Knowing that 25 per cent of deaths in Luton are caused by cancer, she has worked with other local NHS leaders to start the Luton Cancer Outcomes study.

The study set asked Luton residents about their experiences of cancer diagnosis and treatment, to help identify the main factors that add differences in cancer outcomes. Her research led to recommendations made for improving services for the six cancers with the greatest levels of premature deaths in the town.

Kathy said: “Winning this award is a very special moment for the whole team. I am passionate about improving cancer care and patient experience for communities in Luton, and it is a privilege to be acknowledged for the contribution I have made to this important work.

“It was a wonderful evening, celebrating the contributions of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic NHS and care staff from across the country. Thankyou to colleagues who have supported me along the way, and all those who shared the evening with me.”

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Dr James Ramsay is a respiratory physician at Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust who chaired the Luton Cancer Outcomes study. He said:“This project is a great example of genuine collaboration and co-production, bringing together partners from health, social care, patients, patient representatives, third sector and academia, to explore and address some of the long-recognised issues related to cancer outcomes for Luton residents.

“The findings of this study include the frequency of late presentation by patients leading to delayed diagnosis, the levels of awareness of signs and symptoms of cancer, lifestyle and risk factors, and access to cancer services. Anecdotally, it also emerged that some patients’ outcomes were affected by non-medical factors such as the location and the distance they would have to travel for care, since they chose their treatment options with this in mind.

“We will make it our legacy to continue this exemplary collaboration and improve the outcomes for – and the quality of life of – people living with cancer, regionally and beyond.”

Felicity Cox, chief executive officer of Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Integrated Care Board, said: “This award is so well deserved. Kathy is a dedicated NHS professional who makes a genuine difference through her work. I know she is already looking at ways to extend the research project to other parts of Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes.”

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She added: “Thanks to the work she co-ordinated, Kathy will have a direct benefit in the lives and the treatment of residents in Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes who are affected by cancer in the future, and I look forward to seeing the findings influence policy and practice in the years to come.”

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