Wednesday 24th June 2015
Mac Voice, the magazine for Macmillan professionals: Summer 2015
A helpline for people undergoing cancer treatment in Shropshire has received recognition in the Nursing Standard
The 24-hour acute oncology telephone helpline was held up as an example of innovation in acute oncology care by the Nursing Standard, which is the biggest selling nursing journal in the UK. The helpline, which is being funded for three years by Macmillan, is provided by Shropdoc, a not-for-profit company that provides urgent medical services for patients when their GP surgery is closed.
People can call the helpline if they experience any complications or side effects. A member of the Shropdoc team will then assess them over the phone using the UK Oncology Nursing Society 24-hour triage tool and advise them whether they need to be seen at the hospital. If the person does not need to be seen urgently, the team will either arrange to contact them within 24 hours to check on how they are, or instruct them to call back themselves if their condition deteriorates.
The helpline was set up in partnership with the oncology team at The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust, coordinated by Angela Cooper, Macmillan Lead Chemotherapy Nurse; Dr Abel Zachariah, Consultant Oncologist; and Lynne Breakell, Nurse Practitioner and Project Lead.
Friendly and helpful
One person who accessed the helpline said: ‘I used the helpline as part of my chemotherapy treatment and must admit I was dubious to start with. I thought I would be passed around a call centre. However, when I first rang the helpline the call handler was friendly and helpful, and took time to do a thorough assessment.
‘Following the assessment some alarm bells were ringing for her, but she reassured me that I would be fine and arranged for me to be admitted to hospital straight away. She told me where to go and even spoke to my husband to reassure him as well. When I got to hospital it was obvious that the staff there had been given a full handover about my condition and I was seen straight away.’
So far the helpline has been a huge success: from January to September last year, the team took 1,257 calls. Of those, 884 were resolved without the need for a hospital visit.
Contact Laura Mitchell, Macmillan Communications Officer at email@example.com