An exciting new project, generously supported by a grant from Macmillan Cancer Support, was launched on 2 December, marking the start of a programme to transform care and support for people in Gloucestershire living with, and beyond, cancer.

Health and care professionals from across the county met to discuss plans that will see cancer services across GP surgeries, hospitals, community-based services, voluntary organisations work together much more closely. They will also support other initiatives such as exercise and healthy eating, which can significantly improve prognosis, outcomes and wellbeing.

Dr Charles Buckley, GP in Stroud and Cancer Lead with NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said:

“Many more people are now living with and beyond a cancer diagnosis for much longer than ever before and the impact of this disease on our population is changing. For a few cancers we have a long way to go, but for many, the outlook is much better.

However, this success brings problems of its own. Although people are living longer thanks to improvements in diagnosis and treatment, many people will have to cope with the fear, major life-changing disruption and sometimes long-term after effects of treatment.

It’s therefore really important that we do our best to help people overcome all the problems associated with cancer and cancer treatment. This is our major challenge:  how to deliver the care and support that many more people will need in ways that make best sense for Gloucestershire.”

Dr Sadaf Haque, Macmillan GP, said:

“We’re really excited to be working in partnership with Macmillan Cancer Support and are aiming to create a cultural shift that focuses on having a positive mind-set, promotes recovery and supports people to manage the consequences of treatment and any possible recurrence.

We’re looking at the full picture of cancer care from prevention, through to the importance of getting an early diagnosis, undergoing treatment and ongoing survivorship.

Work got underway in spring this year, when the CCG and Macmillan delivered a series of GP master classes covering patient support after treatment and joining up care between hospitals and GPs. The project has also been working with Gloucestershire’s hospitals and voluntary organisations to enable patients and carers to be empowered in their cancer treatment, care and support.

“We hope that over the next few years, this project will see a real transformation in cancer treatment and services and that patients and, very importantly, their carers, will feel well-supported, properly-informed and enabled to lead fulfilling lives beyond that frightening cancer diagnosis,” said Dr Buckley.