New collaboration will support cancer patients in Essex

Categories: Care.

The new counselling service is based at Colchester General Hospital and Essex County Hospital and supports patients at any stage of their cancer journey, from diagnosis onwards, as well as their families and carers.

The new service, which began this month, is a collaboration between Macmillan Cancer Support, St Helena Hospice, North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group and Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Colchester’s acute hospitals.

North East Essex CCG is funding the service for the first year and Macmillan for two years after that at which point the Trust, CCG or hospice – or a combination of all three agencies – will take it on.

Mark Jarman-Howe, Chief Executive at St Helena Hospice, said: “This is a fantastic example of how local healthcare providers are collaborating to provide a service that not only has the patient at its core but also ensures they have access to high quality psychosocial care that’s fully compliant with national quality standards.”

The service is being provided by full-time Macmillan Counsellors Roger Crellin and Alan Trudgian, who are also supporting nursing staff who care for cancer patients and will be involved in training them to screen for psychological distress, such as by enhancing their communication skills. They will work closely with the Macmillan Information and Support Centre at Essex County Hospital.

Some of the issues patients may raise include depression, anxiety, memory problems, difficulty concentrating, sexual problems and reduced social skills while their carers and families may feel helpless, have sleeping problems or financial worries.

Michelle Bath, Macmillan Development Manager for Essex, said: “Receiving a cancer diagnosis is one of the most difficult things many of us will ever experience.

“At Macmillan, we recognise that many people, including carers and family members, suffer from psychological distress as a direct result of a cancer diagnosis. Furthermore, the psychological effects of a cancer diagnosis are often felt long after treatment has finished.

“We believe that nobody should face cancer alone so we’re dedicated to offering services such as this to help people affected by cancer to deal with the emotional, as well as physical, effects of a cancer diagnosis.

“We’re delighted to be working in partnership with Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust, North East Essex CCG and St Helena Hospice to deliver this service for the benefit of patients, family members and carers in North East Essex.”

Referrals to the new service can be made by specialist cancer doctors and nurses at Colchester Hospital Trust and its palliative care team, GPs, district nurses and St Helena Hospice. Patients and carers can also refer themselves by calling St Helena Hospice’s Joan Tomkins Centre.

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