It’s the two year anniversary of a cancer care partnership between St George’s and Macmillan Cancer Support, and patients at the hospital are continuing to benefit.

One of the ways the partnership is improving care for patients, is by increasing the time they are able to spend with a Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS). These are highly trained nursing staff who can address patients’ complex needs.

Macmillan has funded six support workers, who can assist and compliment the work of a CNS, freeing up the nurses to be able to spend more time with patients.

Mark Langston, a Wandsworth resident in his 60s, was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2016 and was treated at St George’s. He is now in remission, but feels that, thanks to a support worker taking on the less complex aspects of care across the department, he was able to have more quality time with his CNS.

He said: “My CNS was marvellous and I really valued the contact we had. I could talk to her about anything and she would understand on a very human level.

“She had the time to go above and beyond her expert clinical role, for example, she would pop in to see me whenever she was passing to check I was OK. After I was discharged she would continue to ring me at home to ask how I was feeling. It made such a difference.”

Janice Minter, Lead Cancer Nurse for Urology at St George’s, said: “Access to a CNS is strongly associated with a good patient experience, but a lot of their time can be spent on administrative tasks and so their specialist skills are not being used.

“We’re delighted that the partnership was able to act on this with the appointment of six motivated Macmillan Cancer Support Workers to improve the care we provide our patients. As well as urology, there are support workers in colorectal, haematology, lung, skin and upper gastrointestinal areas.”

Tracey Allen, Urology Support Worker, said: “I really enjoy helping patients – I can be their first point of contact, assisting them to navigate the system and coordinating their care plan. I can provide a more timely response to phone queries, escalating and prioritising patients’ requests. I also recently helped set up an education event for men about to have a prostatectomy, which was really successful.

“My help enables the CNS on my ward to use her skills where they are most needed. I can take on less complex aspects of support allowing her to dedicate more time to patients that require her expertise.”

The six support workers in the St George’s and Macmillan partnership were funded through money raised by the Merton Committee of Macmillan Cancer Support. The group organised events, collections and donations to help improve St George’s – their local hospital.

St George’s and Macmillan: Cancer Care Partnership for Patient Experience includes four improvement pilots and will run until December 2018.