As you know, increasingly the whole picture of living with and beyond cancer is becoming a critical issue, especially given that cancer patients being discharged back into the community to continue living with and beyond cancer often have to jump over a large gap – between secondary and back to primary care.
We in the MKCPP have been flagging up this problem for nearly seven years now. It is gratifying to see that many other localities, NHS and other groups as well as charities (including Macmillan), are arriving at similar conclusions.
In 2016, Angela Sheldrick, Breast ANP at MKUH was seconded by Macmillan and NHS England to manage Macmillan’s generic Living With & Beyond Cancer project in our locality to move more care, and especially post-treatment care, onto a more workable basis in closer partnership with primary care. This move was welcomed by us all in the MKCPP.
Cancer and Beyond: your way ahead
Now, the MKCPP is working on a local project named Cancer and Beyond: your way ahead to explore and facilitate delivery of help, advice, social networking and camaraderie to cancer and post-cancer patients and their families/carers … in our community, within the community, on a patient-led basis. After an initial survey to get cancer patient/carer feedback at local level, a pilot scheme started in 2016 with one of MK’s GP practices.
A preliminary informal workshop was held at the practice for cancer patients, carers, friends and family members, and was a resounding success, with many attendees keen to take the initiative further and form a micro-local cancer support group on the strength of this first meeting alone.
A further meeting – similarly packed to standing room only – proved to us that we’re on the right track. And a third meeting held in September 2017 proved its value beyond any doubt: nearly 40 people attended, with a packed space with standing room only. Many had been to the previous two meetings and were looking forward to more.
Another GP practice decided to host a pilot workshop along similar lines. This took place early in October 2017.
This meeting was equally well attended and at one point there was –again – standing room only in the meeting space.
Especially after the third successful group meeting at the first GP practice, other MK GP practices became interested in convening similar meetings. MKCPP members, along with local Macmillan representatives plus Angela and her team, decided to continue helping to roll these out.
The first of the 2018 meetings was a joint group from the two local (Bletchley) practices
Because the previous meetings had been so successful, we decided not to try cramming everyone into the meeting rooms and/or reception areas of the two local GP practices, but instead to look elsewhere. At a meeting of the Cancer & Beyond Steering Group we were lucky enough to benefit from one MKCPP member’s strong connections with Bletchley/MK College – which kindly offered us accommodation for our meeting on March 8th.
This meeting attracted an audience of more than 50 patients, carers and other interested parties who enjoyed a meeting theme of “exercise with and beyond cancer” at the Bletchley campus of MK College … with presentations and a panel discussion facilitated by the MKCPP with speakers as follows:
Willen Hospice physiotherapist Nicky McKinnon
Dr Andy Potter (GP, Whaddon Medical Centre)
Dr Adam Staten (GP, Red House),
Macmillan ANP Fay Grech-Marguerat
Macmillan ANP Sam Timmins
Further joint workshops have become a regular feature on the MK Cancer & Beyond calendar ever since that inaugural session. Four more are scheduled for 2020, and other GP practices are planning to follow suit.
Where next for Cancer & Beyond?
Interest also has been expressed by adjacent NHS / CCG GP practices in holding Cancer & Beyond meetings, including a GP practice which straddles the border between MK and West Central Bedfordshire. The Practice Manager concerned attended a recent meeting at Bletchley College and is now planning their pilot event for 2020.
Two further practices in MK have shown interest and are planning pilot events later in 2020.
At the same time, interest has been expressed in these meetings by patient representatives involved with a number of other West Central Bedfordshire GP practices, and we hope that the initiative will spread across there into the MK/Bedford/Luton & Dunstable STP as well as the East of England Cancer Alliance, both of which border on to Milton Keynes.
In addition we hope the initiative will spread to our other neighbouring regions including the Thames Valley Cancer Alliance.
And we hope – perhaps with the help of a huge, brilliant, national cancer charity that should remain nameless – our initiative might one day go nationwide.
For more information on our Cancer & Beyond workshops please drop us a line on firstname.lastname@example.org.