CANCER survivors, patients and pioneering scientists have joined the Duchess of Northumberland at a special ceremony held at The Alnwick Garden, where they made a pledge to help improve services.
Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust has been working with Breakthrough Breast Cancer to produce a service pledge for breast cancer which sets out the standards of service and care that patients can expect to receive at hospitals in Northumberland and North Tyneside.
The initiative, which was launched at The Alnwick Garden last Thursday, has been produced in partnership with breast care patients who shared their views on their treatment and care.
It includes service improvement goals including making patients aware of potential waiting times for appointments and test results, giving access to a patient-friendly treatment plan and piloting group information sessions.
Amanda Walshe, Macmillan Clinical Nurse Specialist in Breast Care at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are very pleased that the Duchess has endorsed the service pledge which will help us further improve our services for breast cancer patients by setting goals that we will work towards.
“At Northumbria Healthcare, we are committed to delivering high quality care and the team recognises the importance of providing care that is patient-focused and acknowledges the complex needs of patients using our breast services.
“The important part of the pledge is that it has been developed using the views of patients – those people who have experienced the service first-hand. Patients have also been actively involved in setting the goals that we have endorsed as a team.
“Patients were generally very happy with their experiences of Northumbria Healthcare and they were particularly praiseworthy of staff saying they felt they were well cared for and were confident in the knowledge and expertise of staff.
“While this is good to hear, there is always room for improvement to make their experiences even better.”
The Duchess, who was the first person to sign up to the service pledge, said: “I am delighted to endorse the service pledge which will further improve care for breast cancer patients. Focussing on the experiences of their patients, the team have set out clear standards and goals to build on the already high quality service they deliver.
“This publication sets out their commitment based on what their patients have said is important to them and the Northumbria Breast Service team are to be commended for their continuing commitment to provide the best possible service, in a caring environment, for their patients.”
Breast cancer patient Jennifer Oliver, from Newton on the Moor, said the pledge was invaluable to help people understand what they could expect from treatment.
“While I was going through treatment, I got a letter from Breakthrough asking if I would like to help other patients by completing a questionnaire on the service I had received,” said Jennifer, who was diagnosed two years ago at the age of 63.
“I couldn’t fault the treatment at Wansbeck General Hospital and the Freeman. Getting people together like this, from across the country, to share their experiences can only benefit patients in the long term.”
Earlier this year, Northumbria Healthcare was rated sixth best in the country, second in the North East, in a Macmillan Cancer Support poll of cancer patients’ experiences of their care.