30th August 2011
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Actress Maxine Peake has become the latest celebrity to back the campaign for a Cancer Information And Support Centre at the Royal Bolton Hospital.

Maxine famed for roles such as Twinkle in ‘Dinnerladies’ and Martha Costello in the bbc’s legal drama ‘Silk’ adds her voice to 10,000 others calling for the Centre to go ahead. Cancer patients and carers in Bolton were forced to launch their campaign in a bid to demonstrate the strength of support for such a facility after NHS Bolton pulled out of the project leaving plans in jeopardy.

Maxine who comes from Bolton and lost her own mother to cancer was moved by the approach from campaigners, only too aware from personal experience of the need for such a facility and the potential benefits it would offer. Maxine said:

‘I would like to add my support to the campaign for the much needed Cancer Information and Support Centre in Bolton. I lost my Mum a few years ago now to cancer and was shocked by the lack of support and information provided by her GP. I know if there had been a centre like this my Mum's last months would have been more comfortable and less stressful for her and as a family we would not have felt so uninformed and helpless.’

Karen Elliott Chair of Bolton Cancer Patients and Carers Consultative Group said ‘we are very grateful to celebrities like Maxine who have taken time out of their busy schedules to give us their support. Maxine’s message comes from the heart and I have no doubt that she has shared her experience in the hope of making the situation better for others. 

Running this campaign has been such a humbling experience. 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 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 patients and their carers throughout the journey and beyond. 

There are already many such Centres  across the length and breath of the country including locally in North, South and Central Manchester, Bury, Oldham, Salford and Stockport. With a population the size of Bolton’s, our incidence rate and issues around late presentation etc it’s unbelievable that this Centre has been rejected for the want of less than £17,000 per month out of NHS Bolton’s  reported budget of £490 million in 2010/11. To allow this project to fail is to allow further gaps and inequalities to develop between what is available for cancer patients, their families and the wider public locally and the added value of other health care providers in the region. During their last two visits to the town over 300 people used the Macmillan Mobile Unit; the need is out there.’

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 from which to deliver 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.

Macmillan Cancer Support have given strong indications of their willingness to fund the building of the  proposed 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.

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.’

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Faz P

Member since: 10th July 2012

Hi I am Faz and am passionate about all things Bolton. I hope you enjoy reading my blogs and find them to be interesting and thought provoking. I would love you to add your personal comments to them. Dont...

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