A MAJOR project which will transform routes to cancer treatment for people in Dumfries and Galloway will begin this month.
Macmillan Cancer Support and NHS Dumfries and Galloway have developed a new partnership to complete an extensive review of cancer services and patient pathway and palliative care provision.
Macmillan is investing £220,000 to facilitate an engagement programme with local cancer patients and their families. In addition to this, Macmillan will also provide £120,000 for local service teams to implement improvement initiatives within health and social care service deliveries.
The programme will allow Macmillan and NHS to complete a comprehensive analysis into existing cancer service delivery. This will include comprehensive evidence-based review through local engagement with cancer patients and their families. The results will potentially shape changes to cancer services and pathways for patients in the area.
When results are known, Macmillan will work with NHS Dumfries and Galloway to support and possibly fund the implementation of the improvement plans.
NHS Chief Operating Officer Julie White, who is also Dumfries and Galloway Health and Social Care Partnership Chief Officer, said: “This project has the potential to significantly alter the way people with cancer in this region go on to receive treatment, and so we are delighted to be working together with Macmillan.”
Cancer services in Dumfries and Galloway are currently aligned with the East of Scotland Cancer Network (SCAN).
This means that people requiring specialist cancer treatment outwith the region often go on to receive top quality care at the likes of the highly regarded Western General Hospital in Edinburgh.
Dumfries and Galloway Health and Social Care Partnership Medical Director Dr Kenneth Donaldson said: “We are satisfied that the treatment and care being provided to people from Dumfries and Galloway is of an extremely high level and quality. We are achieving the national cancer waiting time targets, and seeing good outcomes from treatments.
“However, this project provides an opportunity to study the needs of the population in Dumfries and Galloway, to map existing services, and to determine which cancer care and treatment options outwith the region can deliver the very best outcomes at the least inconvenience to the patient.
“Whether this means retaining those services in Edinburgh or transferring some to Glasgow where some treatments already take place will fall under the remit of this project.
“But we also expect that the work undertaken through this 23 month programme will deliver some early results, informing and potentially altering approaches while this work is carried out.
“In addition, the Band 6 post provided by the Macmillan funding will be focusing on understanding palliative care needs and resources in Dumfries and Galloway in order to provide long term sustainable good outcomes in palliative, end of life and bereavement supports and services in the region.
“And throughout all of this, it will be vital that patients and carers play a major role in informing the work and helping to shape any resulting approaches. To this end, we will be looking to engage with communities.”
Recruitment is set to begin shortly for a project manager, palliative care lead and support worker to undertake the work, thanks to the funding being provided by Macmillan Cancer Support.
Macmillan’s Partnership Manager Nisreen Badiozzaman added: “We are delighted to provide much needed funding to allow this extensive review of cancer services and the patient pathway to be completed.
“Our £340,000 funding will facilitate an engagement programme with local people who have been through the cancer pathway.
“This means local cancer patients and their families will be able to share their experiences and knowledge to help us shape the future pathways and services. It will also provide local service teams with funding to implement some initial improvement initiatives within health and social care services.
“When results of the review are collated, Macmillan will work with NHS Dumfries and Galloway to support and possibly fund the implementation of the improvement plans.
“The increase in people being diagnosed with cancer coupled with the complexity of advancing treatments means Scotland’s cancer care system is facing unprecedented challenges.
“A diagnosis of cancer can affect every aspect of life, bringing emotional, financial, practical and physical problems that can last long after treatment ends. That’s why Macmillan is using its financial investments and influence to create a better system. One where everyone with cancer gets access to the best clinical care possible, alongside all the emotional, practical and financial support they need from the moment of diagnosis onwards.
“Our significant contribution of £340,000 is thanks to the continued support of people locally who work so hard to raise funds. We simply couldn’t do it without them and we are extremely grateful.”