14,000 signature Petition handed to NHS Bolton
A Petition containing 14,079 signatures backing the proposal for a Cancer Information And Support Centre at the Royal Bolton Hospital was yesterday handed to NHS Bolton during their Public Board Meeting with Campaign organizers Bolton Cancer Patients and Carers Consultative Group calling on the local Primary Care Trust to overturn their previous decision not to pick up the ongoing running costs of the proposed Centre once the initial period of funding comes to an end.
Macmillan Cancer Support have given strong indications of their willingness to fund the building of the Centre and provide monies to run it for an initial period of up to 5 years but without local commitment to pick up on-going running costs once this period of pump-priming comes to an end they are unable to proceed with plans which had progressed as far as Architect’s drawings when NHS Bolton pulled out.
The proposed Centre in Bolton would provide a drop-in service offering cancer information, practical advice, a listening ear and emotional support; a telephone helpline; an email response service; Welfare Rights Advice; Complementary Therapies; education sessions / workshops / courses; space to hold cancer related meetings; space for local Cancer Support Groups to meet and a less clinical environment for the Breast Prosthesis Service, Breast Lymphoedema Service and a Wig Fitting Service. With the Centre as the hub it is envisaged that Community Satellite Units would in time be developed as part of an Outreach Service.
Miss Elliott Chair of Bolton Cancer Patients and Carers Consultative Group said:
‘Our vision is that the Centre will be an integrated and integral part of local Cancer Services offering a credible source of information, advice and support to complement the work of the Multidisciplinary Teams and others working with cancer patients, their families or carers helping us achieve a seamless service and improve the patient experience. For most people in the area suspected of having cancer Bolton Hospital will be the place to which we go for investigations, to receive our diagnosis, have treatment and receive follow-up care making it the most appropriate location for a Centre of this nature.’
Such a Centre would not be unique, there are many such establishments across the length and breath of the United Kingdom including over 100 which have been established with the help of Macmillan Cancer Support, the Maggie Centres and some that are independent Charities. Though models vary they are all united by their common goal of providing information and support to those whose lives are affected by cancer. Locally there are Centres in North, South and Central Manchester, Bury, Oldham, Salford and Stockport.
Miss Elliott said:
It would take less than £17, 000 per month to run this Centre and these monies would not need to be found locally for a good number of years. With a population the size of Bolton’s, our incidence rate, issues around late presentation and the growing number of people living with and beyond cancer etc we hope that NHS Bolton will now finally commit to the long-term costs of the facility and get plans for the Centre back on track. Last year 1830 people received a cancer diagnosis at Bolton Hospital equating to an average of 5 a day and during their last two visits to the town over 300 people used the Macmillan Mobile Unit; the need is out there.
During the time we have been running this campaign many patients, cancer survivors and their families have shared their experiences with us, which has only served to endorse our conviction that the proposed Centre has a very definite role to play in local cancer services and would we believe undoubtedly enhance the patient experience, provide choice, add value and contribute towards the improvement of outcomes. Nothing can change the devastating impact of a cancer diagnosis but much can be done to support and empower people throughout the journey and beyond.’
The Group have also made representation to the 2 GP Consortia in Bolton and hope that they will use their influence to back the call for the Centre to proceed.
Campaigners believe this to be one of the most highly responded to public engagement exercises on a local health issue ever to have been undertaken in the borough. All the more remarkable since the campaign has been run entirely on goodwill with the patient and carer group behind it having no financial resources to support their activities which have included driving in excess of 200 miles to attend events and get their message out.
Miss Elliott said:
‘The Government are keen to ensure that the public play an integral part in the commissioning of local services. We hope that the level of support this campaign has attracted will provide unequivocal evidence of what is wanted from local Health Services here in Bolton.
We would like to extend a sincere vote of thanks to all those who have backed us and helped us achieve this outstanding result. Let’s hope that the long wait for this much needed Centre will soon be over.’
Professor Alan Ashworth, the Chief Executive of The Institute of Cancer Research who was born and raised in Bolton and still has family connections in the area had this to say when approached by campaigners:
‘I am pleased to pledge my strong support for the campaign to secure a local Cancer Information and Support Centre at the Royal Bolton Hospital. Facilities such as this are important in helping to ensure that the practical, psychological, social and emotional needs of patients are met both during the phase of their illness and beyond into survivorship. As a cancer diagnosis impacts not only on the patient it’s crucial that the needs of their whole family are considered. Also, the more we do to raise cancer awareness amongst the general public the greater our chances of preventing the disease or of it being diagnosed at an earlier stage. It would be wonderful to see the people of Bolton benefiting from such a Centre which I believe would be an invaluable resource for the area. I would urge NHS Bolton to urgently rethink their decision not to progress this proposal.’
Member since: 10th July 2012
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