3 March 2015
James Ferry talks about his experience, and how the ICJ team helped him.
New Glasgow service solves 3500 problems in just one year. Glasgow’s cancer patients are struggling to cope with thousands of problems, from debt worries to caring for themselves at home. The startling scale of the issues facing cancer patients has been revealed as a unique support service in Glasgow celebrates its first year in operation. Over 430 people with cancer in the city have been helped by the Improving the Cancer Journey (ICJ) service since last February.
The project, a partnership with Macmillan, Glasgow City Council and NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde, has helped patients with an average of eight issues each. Among the almost 3500 issues were money and housing worries, practical problems like caring for themselves at home and emotional problems. Many of those who were helped by the service said they wouldn’t have got help if ICJ hadn’t been there for them.
Head of the service Sandra McDermott said: “We knew there was a real need for someone to help cancer patients deal with all the problems the illness causes, but even we have been shocked at the scale of the need out there. “To think that many of those we’ve helped – some in quite desperate situations – would have struggled on alone if this service didn’t exist is heart-breaking.”
Macmillan’s director for Scotland, NI and Wales, Elspeth Atkinson, added: “We know the needs of cancer patients extend well beyond the physical. Cancer can impact on every aspect of a patient’s life, from their emotional wellbeing to their finances. “There is already a lot of support available but far too often patients don’t know about it. This project is a fantastic example of health, social care and charities coming together to put the patient at the centre of everything we do.”
One man who has used the service is James Ferry, 60. The Glasgow man was diagnosed with bowel cancer in February last year, just after being made redundant from his job as a cleaner.
The 60-year-old, whose cancer is incurable, was living in a bedsit and sharing a bathroom with strangers when his nurse referred him to ICJ.
James said: “When you have bowel cancer you really need to have your own bathroom. After ICJ got in touch with me they got me a flat of my own. If it wasn’t for them I think I’d still be in the bedsit. “ICJ also helped me claim benefits. They just sorted that all out for me. Tracey from the service calls be regularly to see how I’m doing and ask if I need anything. “Just knowing she’s there has taken away so much of my worry and stress. “My family have been great and have been trying to do a lot on my behalf, but the people from ICJ know where to go to get things done. I’m so grateful for everything they’ve done for me.”
The Improving the Cancer Journey project, launched last February sends letters to cancer patients offering them a meeting with one of the team to find out what emotional, practical, financial or clinical support they need. It began by focusing on the five most common cancers before expanding to all in June.
City Treasurer at Glasgow City Council, Cllr Paul Rooney said: “If this project tells us one thing, as a city; it is that living with a diagnosis of cancer poses more problems and challenges for individuals and families than any of us have ever understood before. “We, along with our partners at Macmillan, are still learning every day exactly how these problems create real and often quite desperate need; but we are also learning how best we can help. “In doing so, I believe we are building the most complete model for cancer care available anywhere in the UK.
“With 20,000 Glaswegians currently living with a cancer diagnosis, that will play a fundamental part in making this not only a healthier, but a fairer and more equal city.”
Andrew Robertson, Chairman of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, said: “We’re determined to continue our work with our partners in ensuring that every person in Glasgow living with cancer is receiving the range of support they require.”
Macmillan Cancer Support, who have invested £3m into the project, and partners Glasgow City Council, NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde, Cordia, Glasgow Life and Prostate Cancer UK.
To find out more about the Improving the Cancer Journey service call 0141 287 7077.