5 July 2016
The Macmillan Acute Oncology team at Southampton celebrate 5 years since the service began
A Hampshire service providing emergency assessment and care for people with cancer has marked a five year milestone.
The Macmillan Acute Oncology service at Southampton General Hospital is an initiative developed and funded by Macmillan Cancer Support, in partnership with University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust (UHS). The team provide emergency telephone triage, advice, assessments and treatment to people who need urgent care as a result of their cancer.
The service has grown massively to meet demand: staff numbers have grown from six to 28. Since 2012 alone, the team have conducted 8,331 patient reviews, and triaged 15,564 calls.
Advanced Nurse Practitioner Katie Hudson has been in post for two years with the team. She explains her role, saying: ‘As an ANP, I talk to patients over the phone and triage their calls, and decide whether they need to come in for assessment or if they can remain at home with primary care support. We also complete medical clerking, order investigations and diagnostics, look at treatment plans; the service means patients have one point of contact, so they don’t need to keep repeating themselves, and often feel more able to share any worries or concerns because they’re speaking to a familiar person.’
Katie’s mum - who lives in Lymington - was sadly diagnosed with metastatic pancreatic cancer in September last year, and has been one of the people accessing the service. Katie says: ‘As her daughter and carer I see her daily to administer injections, and then I see her here at work when she comes for treatment once a week; if she needs me she knows I’m here, but it’s also a great comfort knowing she’s in the best possible hands with my colleagues in the Macmillan Acute Oncology Service, who I know and trust.
‘I never wanted to know what it felt like to be a relative – no-one does – but I think it’s made me a better nurse. I can’t change the outcome for people, but I do understand the feelings they are experiencing and I can do my best to deliver news or support in the most sensitive way. My mum was also a nurse here at Southampton General Hospital and cared for her mother when she died of cancer; now I’m here, walking the same corridors and I only hope I can be an ounce of the person she is and make her proud of me; she’s amazing.’
All practitioners within the service, like Katie, are on the advanced nurse practitioner pathway. This means they are developing advanced skills such as history-taking, diagnostics and non-medical prescribing, so that patients don’t need to wait to see a doctor. This in turn helps to speed up processes, and helps to improve patient experience and outcomes.
If you have questions about cancer, need support or someone to talk to, call the Macmillan Support Line on 0808 808 0000 Monday – Friday, 9am - 8pm.