A new breast care survivorship team has been set up in Lincolnshire in what is being described by nurses as a “complete shift” in how follow-up care is managed.
The service, thought to be the first of its kind, is being launched by Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust to give patients extra support after initial treatment.
“As far as we can tell, we are the only area in the country to offer a breast specific follow-up and survivorship programme with designated breast care survivorship clinical nurse specialists”
Breast care clinical nurse specialists Nicola Dixon and Sue Cooper will see patients after their year one mammogram and will offer a service tailored to each individual patient’s needs.
Patients will be referred to the service by their consultant and at the initial clinic appointment they will be assessed and have an individual care plan developed and agreed with the breast care nurse.
Ms Dixon said: “We will be their single point of contact once they’ve finished treatment and had their year one mammogram for the next four years. It’s a complete shift in how breast cancer follow-up care is managed.
“As far as we can tell, we are the only area in the country to offer a breast specific follow-up and survivorship programme with designated breast care survivorship clinical nurse specialists,” she said. “Usually the follow-up and survivorship workload is an additional duty for breast care nurses.”
She added: “As we’re focusing purely on breast cancer, we’ll be able to offer specific advice on dealing with the side effects from breast cancer treatments.”
“After they have completed their initial treatment and their hospital appointments reduce it can feel quite frightening”
In developing the programme, the two nurses have spoken to local cancer survivors about what they would have liked to have had on offer while they were going through their follow-up treatment.
Ms Cooper said: “Breast cancer patients get a lot of support after their initial diagnosis and it can sometimes be quite overwhelming with all the information they are given, but after they have completed their initial treatment and their hospital appointments reduce it can feel quite frightening.
“We’ll be focusing on their recovery and overall health and wellbeing by identifying their individual needs which may include social, psychological or sexual concerns,” she said.
“We’ll be providing psychological support and offering information and advice in addition to signposting to other health professionals and services, with the ultimate aim to ensure patients feel supported and equipped to self-manage their own future health and wellbeing,” she added.
The trust also hopes the new team will free up breast care clinical nurse specialist time as they will be taking over follow-up appointments, allowing colleagues to spend more time supporting newly-diagnosed patients.