Monday 21st December 2015
Mac Voice, the magazine for Macmillan professionals: Winter 2015
This has sometimes been the message between generalists and specialists. But as Lorraine Sloan explains, Macmillan is building bridges.
Effective communication is one of the key challenges faced between health professionals , both in terms of increasing sub-specialisation as well as a lack of opportunity to build personal relationships.
Macmillan has been testing ways to bring together health professionals from across primary and secondary care, to create a shared understanding of different perspectives and address common challenges, including communication across boundaries.
To date, we have held seven events across the country involving over 130 professionals from primary and secondary care, including GPs, cancer leads, consultant oncologists, radiologists, surgeons, junior doctors, and specialists in palliative medicine.
A day in one another’s shoes
Participants of the events have told us it is often the small things that are important and that much can be achieved simply by creating space for conversation. One outcome of the events has been identification of local shadowing opportunities. Macmillan GPs have been linking up with consultant colleagues in their area to spend ‘a day in one another’s shoes’.
Participants have reported that they have valued being able to develop personal relationships and to understand one another’s roles better, resulting in improved communication as well as the potential for effective shared care.
Two participants of these shadowing days were Dr Helen Murrie, Macmillan GP cancer lead for Tayside and Dr Caroline Mitchie, an oncology consultant specialising in breast cancer at Ninewells Hospital, Dundee.
Both were struck by difference in the time each was able to spend with patients, and the contrast in the depth of knowledge required in secondary care versus breadth of knowledge needed by GPs on many different conditions. This highlighted the importance of clear and succinct communication across sectors.
In particular, Helen identified the importance of oncologists being clear about what they need from GPs:
‘They need to make it obvious to GPs: what’s the plan? What has the patient been told? And what do you want the GP to do? If directions to the GP are hidden in a three-page document they are much less likely to see it.’
The concept of shadowing has also been explored by those undertaking the Macmillan cancer course for practice nurses.
Several participants have linked up with local clinical nurse specialists to share knowledge and experiences.
Preparing for the future
With almost 70% of people with cancer now having at least one other long-term condition , it is increasingly important that we create opportunities to share skills and experiences between generalists and specialists.
Macmillan is well placed to do this and will be hosting an event in early 2016 to build on this work. If you would like to know more you can register your interest at firstname.lastname@example.org
1. Health Education England. Strategic Framework. 2015.
2. Independent Cancer Taskforce. Achieving world class outcomes: a cancer strategy for England 2015– 2020. 2015.
Email Lorraine Sloan, Medical Communities of Influence Lead at Macmillan Cancer Support.