Published on: Monday 27th January 2020

Patient Driven Service Improvement Earns National Award Nomination for West Yorkshire and Harrogate Cancer Alliance

The collaboration between West Yorkshire and Harrogate (WYH) Cancer Alliance and Breast Cancer Now, the research and care charity, has been shortlisted for an improvement programme which puts patients at the heart of service change.

The organisations have been nominated in the Best Not For Profit In Partnership With The NHS category in this year's Health Service Journal Partnership Awards, which recognise outstanding dedication in the improvement of healthcare. Learn more here.

The Service Pledge is an innovative programme designed to deliver lasting positive change to everyone's experience of breast cancer.

Working in partnership with the Cancer Alliance since June 2017 has facilitated the sharing of learning and good practice across the acute hospital Trusts in the West Yorkshire and Harrogate area and the driving of innovation at scale across its constituent organisations.

Breast Cancer Now, the UK's first comprehensive breast cancer charity, provides insight into the latest research, most up-to-date guidelines, evidence of best practice and detailed understanding of the needs and priorities of people affected by breast cancer, informed by feedback from those who access its information and support. The charity has 16 years' experience of improving breast cancer services across the country, to create an approach that is centrally organised but owned by those on the frontline.

Examples of change included in local Service Pledge action plans are:

• Reduced waiting times for chemotherapy at Airedale General Hospital with the provision of a chemotherapy bus. Staff morale also improved due to greater variety in their work.

•Tailored information packs introduced at Leeds Teaching Hospitals, with specific information according to tumour type, and the opportunity to add in new information at each stage of treatment

• Calderdale & Huddersfield NHS Trust improved communication around access to the local Clinical Co-ordinator supporting breast care nurses as a single point of contact. Nurses are also producing a video for GPs and patients to explain what to expect when they are first referred to the breast unit. Pictured below, right, is Christopher Button, the Trust's Lead Cancer Nurse.

• Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust reviewed and updated their whole pathway of care for breast cancer patients, including ensuring all patients are offered Holistic Needs Assessments at the start and end of treatment.

The Service Pledge improves patient experience for all breast cancer patients; improves local breast cancer services in ways that matter most to patients; empowers both patients and staff to secure improvement and increases patient confidence in their care and treatment.

Beverley Forkes (picture above, left) has become a patient advocate for Breast Cancer Now following her involvement with the Service Pledge at Mid Yorkshire Hospitals. "I felt that breast cancer had stolen much of my confidence and outgoing nature, so I saw the opportunity to get involved with the service pledge as a chance to do something that I felt was important.

"I was struggling with coming to terms with my cancer; I felt upset, I lacked confidence and was so emotional that I wondered how my life could ever be normal again. Breast Cancer Now made me feel strong. It was a good process. I realised that I could make things happen. Receiving cancer treatment leaves you feeling disempowered, but I realised I could change that."

Oversight and assurance of the WYH programme, on behalf of the Cancer Alliance, is carried out by the Alliance Patient Expert Advisory Group, chaired by Professor Marina Bloj, who is Professor of Visual Perception and Association Dean (Research and Knowledge Transfer) with the Faculty of Health at the University of Bradford. Catherine Wood, Breast Cancer Now's Head of Services Development, is also a member of the group, along with Cancer Alliance Clinical Director, Professor Sean Duffy.

Pictured, left to right, are Catherine, Professor Duffy and Professor Bloj.

Said Professor Duffy: “This work brought people together around a common purpose that was evidence based and of proven value to patients. It also helped us move forward with the agenda on empowering patients… and it worked! It has helped reduce the variation in support to breast cancer patients and provided experience of a methodology that can be re-run and re-run.

"At our recent 'Continuing The Conversation' event, led by Breast Cancer Now, our hospital colleagues and patients supported a further round of Service Pledge work because of the real difference it is making on the ground."

Pictured below, left: Continuing The Conversation - Taking stock of progress and looking to the future.

The Health Service Journal (HSJ) Partnership Awards celebrate the most effective partnerships with the NHS and highlight the benefits which working with the private and third sectors can bring to patients and NHS organisations. Readership of the HSJ covers healthcare leaders from both clinical and non clinical backgrounds, and both public and private sectors.

Health Service Journal is the only title to cover all aspects of publicly funded healthcare, providing news, analysis, best practise information from some of the most powerful and respected figures in health. The HSJ audience is formed of healthcare leaders from both clinical and non-clinical backgrounds and both public and private sectors.

Winners will be announced at an awards ceremony to be held in London on 27th February 2020.