Yorkshire hospitals in pledge to improve services for patients with breast cancer

Hospitals in Yorkshire are being held up as national models for care of breast cancer patients.

The Breakthrough Breast Cancer and Breast Cancer Care charities have teamed up with the York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust to implement improvements to services for people diagnosed with the secondary form of the disease.

Patients from across North Yorkshire and the north-east Yorkshire coast were asked for their views during a consultation exercise, which highlighted the need for people to have a single point of contact within the breast care team once they were diagnosed.

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The trust has now committed to providing a key worker for every patient who will act as an advocate, co-ordinate care, and provide support and information as needed.

Margaret Ralph, 70, from York, was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer, which occurs when breast cancer cells spread from the first, primary tumour into another part of the body, in 2012. She helped the trust and charities gather views’ of those treated for the disease.

Mrs Ralph said: “Being told that your cancer has spread is an incredibly frightening time and when you hear those words it can be very difficult to process the information you are being given.

“One of the goals set out today is to ensure that a nurse either sits in on this appointment with you or makes contact within five working days to ensure that any changes being made to your treatment plan are understood and answer any questions you may have once the news has sunk in.

“It’s such a good idea to get input from patients, I’m proud to have had a hand in what I hope will be some really useful changes for other patients like myself in the near future.”

Breakthrough Breast Cancer and Breast Cancer Care are now rolling out the project across the UK.

Catherine Wood, senior involvement officer at Breakthrough Breast Cancer, said: “Many people can live for months and sometimes years with secondary breast cancer, but they do have very specific needs.

“In order to ensure their needs are met, and that the best possible care is provided, it is imperative that the voices of these patients are heard.”