Macmillan Professionals Excellence Awards Finalists 2019

Choosing our winners from such an amazing and inspiring selection of people wasn’t easy. We’d like to congratulate all of our finalists for the fantastic work they do to support people living with cancer.

Innovation Excellence

Linda Bedford

Macmillan Consultant Radiographer for Palliative Radiotherapy
Musgrove Park Hospital

With more people living with treatable but not curable cancer, the need for palliative radiotherapy is increasing. However, palliative radiotherapy services aren’t always seen as important as more radical curative treatment services. Patients who need it for symptom management often have long waiting times and have to endure more basic treatment techniques. Linda, a Macmillan Consultant Radiographer, is striving to deliver a better – and fairer – patient experience in Taunton.

Linda has achieved two UK firsts in her role: she wrote the first comprehensive evidence-based palliative radiotherapy protocol and helped to form a multidisciplinary team to peer review palliative radiotherapy treatments. On top of this, she developed an outreach service that supports patients to maintain their dignity, reduce their hospital visits, retain their autonomy and die well.

Thanks to Linda’s innovations, patients who need palliative radiotherapy treatment now receive ever-improving treatment techniques and the best possible outcomes.

‘There are so many patients who need symptom management, but nobody should have to wait to be seen,’ she says.

If you have any questions about Linda’s work, please email Susan Littler, Partnership Quality Lead.


Macmillan Enhanced Recovery Project

United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust

Many people who are diagnosed with cancer and planning for treatment are not only concerned with the medical side of things, but also the social, practical and emotional effects cancer can have on their lives. The earlier these worries can be addressed, the better the outcomes. That’s exactly what the Macmillan Enhanced Recovery Project at United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust has managed to achieve.

The team helps people who are planning to start radiotherapy. Each session provides invaluable information about what to expect from treatment and how to manage side effects, work issues, emotional wellbeing and exercise. Participants are also told about the support that’s available locally and self-referrals are encouraged, which results in concerns being addressed sooner.

‘Delivering the session, before treatment begins, means individuals and their families feel valued and more prepared for radiotherapy,’ says Macmillan Specialist Occupational Therapist Helen Fieldson. ‘Each enhanced recovery session also aims to reduce the risk of patients developing health and social problems in the future.’

If you have any questions about the team’s work, please email Caroline Boyer, Partnership Quality Lead.


Macmillan General Oncology Dietitians

Royal Surrey County Hospital

There was a huge demand from patients needing support from the Macmillan General Oncology Dietitian service in Surrey, but the team was unable to see everyone who needed them. That’s why they transformed their service by adopting two innovative initiatives.

Firstly, they employed a graduate dietitian to provide advice to less complex patients and a dietetic assistant to carry out clinical and administrative duties. Both roles free up senior team members to spend more time with more complex patients.

They also created a range of educational resources, so every patient can receive evidence-based information about their diet. This helps to combat unreliable advice on the internet.

‘Our non-traditional mix of skills in the team was a real risk,’ says team lead Lindsey Allan. ‘We had to make a commitment to teach the less experienced members of our team so they too could provide a great service to our patients. We’ve proved it’s a model that can work and it costs a lot less.’

If you have any questions about the team’s work, please email Shirley Edghill, Partnership Quality Lead.


Macmillan Lung Nursing Team in a Tertiary Treatment Centre

The Christie NHS Foundation Trust

People with lung cancer have complex needs that require expert support. In Greater Manchester and East Cheshire, most people with lung cancer saw a Lung Clinical Nurse Specialist (LCNS) at the point of diagnosis, but few received any support once treatment started. That’s why the Macmillan Lung Cancer Nurse Team in a Tertiary Treatment Centre was developed.

The team of six nurses have developed a proactive service that assigns every patient a named LCNS who supports them and finds out what they need throughout their cancer journey. They also run nurse-led clinics, both onsite and via telephone, as well as an advice line and a lung support group. Patients play a crucial role in the continued development of the service, making sure their voices are always heard.

‘For patients, knowing they've got somebody they can contact is so important,’ says LCNS Hilary Neal. ‘But we’re also being proactive – we’re identifying the support people need and we’re solving problems before they get to crisis point. Patients don’t feel like they’re being left on their own as they’re going through treatment anymore.’

If you have any questions about the team’s work, please email Fran Mellor, Partnership Manager.


Integration Excellence

Peter Armstrong

Macmillan Palliative Care Service Improvement Pharmacist
Belfast Health & Social Care Trust

Community pharmacists play a key role in helping people with cancer, who are near the end of their life, to be cared for at home – a place where most of us would want to be. But many community pharmacists in Northern Ireland felt unable to provide this vital support. They hadn’t had palliative care training, did not have enough information about end of life medicines and, crucially, had not been made aware of how to get hold of these medicines in an emergency.

The Macmillan Palliative Care Pharmacy Service Improvement Project, led by Peter Armstrong, was set up to help solve the problem.

Peter inspired his team to provide pharmacists across the country with key information and support, including guidance on symptom control in the last days of life. He also led work to standardise procedures for palliative patients being discharged from hospital, so everyone would have the medicines they needed to take home.

The team is also piloting prescribing boxes in homes which help people order medicines before they need them, so they don’t run out. They are also providing training resources for pharmacists and have introduced a flag for GP prescribing systems to provide advice about safe, appropriate and locally available end of life medicines.

‘It's not just about providing the medication – it's about pharmacists making things easier for patients and their families,’ explains Peter. ‘Their time is better spent with their loved ones.’

If you have any questions about Peter’s work, please email Lorna Nevin, Partnership Manager.


Laura Cutler

Macmillan East Midlands Teenage & Young Adult Survivorship Clinical Nurse Specialist
Nottingham University Hospitals

When a young person starts cancer treatment, their whole world can grind to a halt. They may need to pull out of education or, if they’re in the early stages of their working life, they may lack the security of having a job to return to. In the East Midlands, there were no services to help them get back on track after treatment, so Laura Cutler set one up called BOOST.

To create BOOST, Laura partnered with five colleges in the region to help young people to work with their careers teams and allow them to reassess their career plans following treatment. Laura provides ongoing training for the careers advisers to ensure they understand the complex needs of the people they help.

‘It often comes down to working through the heartache of a distressed young person who had an ambition, which has been stopped in its tracks because of their cancer treatment,’ explains Laura. ‘BOOST offers emotional support and suggests how life could move forward, step by step.’

If you have any questions about Laura’s work, please email Mandy Edwards, Partnership Quality Lead.


Macmillan Community Wellbeing Project Team

Wirral Council

People with cancer often find it difficult to live life as fully as they can, but the Macmillan Community Wellbeing team in the Wirral are supporting them to take back control. The service, which runs from 22 libraries across the area, carries out Holistic Needs Assessments (HNAs) and draws up care plans that give people the confidence to self-manage.

One of the project’s major benefits is its unique physical activity programme. Offering all patients a free 12-week pass to local leisure services, it supports healthy lifestyle changes both before and after treatment. Whether it’s using the gym, swimming, going to cancer rehabilitation classes or gardening sessions, there’s something to help empower everyone.

Team Lead Lucy Holmes says, ‘The impact of the service is wide and varied. We’ve helped some people to change their lifestyle before surgery and optimise their outcomes. Others have increased their wellbeing and fitness after treatment. People’s mental health is a priority too – some of them have been in very dark places. We really are a one-stop shop.’

If you have any questions about the team’s work, please email Sonia Holdsworth, Partnership Quality Lead.


Macmillan Cancer Pathways Redesign Programme Team

Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust

The number of people living with cancer in Nottinghamshire is expected to double to 55,700 by 2030. So, it’s crucial to have a system that can support their ongoing needs. That’s exactly what the Macmillan Cancer Pathways Redesign Programme team at Nottingham University Hospitals are developing.

The team’s ambitious programme focuses on delivering integrated stratified follow-up pathways for the six most common cancers and implementing the Recovery Package. The pathways offer tailor-made patient care through Electronic Holistic Needs Assessments (eHNAs). Treatment summaries also keep everyone informed.

Thanks to the programme, people with cancer now receive an improved experience, with their needs met. It also frees up valuable clinic time for new patients.

‘Beforehand, there was no real focus on follow-up and aftercare,’ explains Programme Manager Lisa Janiec. ‘Every patient was being brought back to clinic for the same length of time, regardless of need. We wanted to ensure nobody was brought back to hospital who didn’t need to be, and that everybody received end-of-treatment support through the Recovery Package.’

If you have any questions about the team’s work, please email Mandy Edwards, Partnership Quality Lead.


Quality Improvement Excellence

Louise Pound

Lead Macmillan Skin Cancer Clinical Nurse Specialist
Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Open communication and ongoing support from healthcare professionals should be the standard when you’re living with cancer, but this isn’t always the case. In Gloucestershire, consultants and junior doctors were struggling to communicate malignant melanoma diagnoses effectively and failing to get patients the support they needed. Lead Macmillan Skin Cancer Clinical Nurse Specialist Louise Pound knew that patients were not receiving consistent, seamless care, so she set out to improve the pathway.

Louise established a nurse-led triage and assessment clinic for people with suspected or confirmed malignant melanoma, as well as appointments where nurses could deliver bad news. Her positive attitude and nurturing leadership style have been fundamental in improving patient outcomes and boosting team members’ confidence.

‘It was difficult to watch other people breaking significant, catastrophic news to patients and leaving them feeling upset or confused,’ explains Louise. ‘We knew that, as nurses, we could improve the service. We have advanced communication skills – we’re able to offer patients more time and we’re already familiar with them.’

If you have any questions about Louise’s work, please email Gillian Thistlewood, Partnership Quality Lead.


Lynn Mack

Macmillan Cancer Strategy Manager
NHS Lanarkshire

In Lanarkshire, some of the cancer clinical pathways were failing to meet the cancer waiting times milestones. It became clear that radical quality improvements were needed across the board. Macmillan Cancer Improvement Manager, Lynn Mack, was charged with leading an ambitious programme to provide safe, effective, person-centred and sustainable services.

Lynn facilitated nine scoping events, identifying what worked well in services and what improvements needed to be made. She led the mapping exercise that followed, along with several workshops for patients and staff members.

Lynn’s collaborative approach has enabled her to get buy-in for successful service improvements across the organisation. She also passionately believes in listening to, enabling and supporting teams to develop their own initiatives.

‘Change is scary,’ explains Lynn. ‘But if you have a hunch that something could improve a service, you need to try it. Test it in a small way and then reflect on the learning. You will be surprised about what you can achieve.

If you have any questions about the team’s work, please email Elaine McTavish, Partnership Quality Lead.


Macmillan Acute Haemato-Oncology Team

Taunton & Somerset NHS Foundation Trust

People going through treatment have lots of questions, concerns and anxieties, so it’s important they can get the right advice and support when they need it. The Acute Haemato-Oncology Nursing Team at Musgrove Park Hospital recognised their telephone triage service didn’t always allow this to happen, so they decided to change things.

To give patients a single point of contact, and to stop any calls being missed, the team launched a Cancer Helpline that’s staffed 24/7. As well as offering patients the reassurance of knowing expert support is at their fingertips, the helpline is also reducing the need for people to stay in hospital and for how long.

‘Previously, if calls weren’t answered, patients would delay phoning back, which meant they got more unwell at home,’ explains Macmillan Acute Haemato-Oncology Clinical Nurse Specialist Lucy Ford. ‘This delayed their admission and impacted on their length of their stay in hospital. Now, patients can phone early on and know that their issue will be dealt with quickly. The helpline is a fantastic safety net.’

If you have any questions about the team’s work, please email Susan Littler, Partnership Quality Lead.


Macmillan Acute Oncology Service Team

Barts Health NHS Trust

Barts Health NHS Trust in East London serves one of the most deprived, but culturally rich, areas of the country. The people who live here present some unique challenges when it comes to cancer care. Poverty or cultural factors can mean they are reluctant to seek medical help and may do so when it’s an emergency. When they do, the Macmillan Acute Oncology Service (AOS) team is there for them.

The team has doubled the number of its nurses from three to six over the past four years which means they can respond to even more urgent cases. They also work beyond organisational boundaries to support hospital and community-based staff to offer people with cancer the very best person-centred care.

‘Our service is a big safety net – it doesn't allow any patient to fall through,’ says Lead AOS Consultant Nikos Diamantis. ‘Patients have their own nurse specialists, they have their own doctors, but everyone now knows that whenever a crisis comes, we will be there.’

If you have any questions about the team’s work, please email Jade Fairfax, Partnership Quality Lead.