A NATIONAL programme that brings together breast cancer patients with their hospital teams to directly improve care has proved so successful in the East of England it is being extended across the region and is also in the running for a top award.

Charity Breast Cancer Now has been working since 2019 with hospitals in the southern half of the region, covering Bedford, Luton and Milton Keynes, Hertfordshire and West Essex, Mid and South Essex, to implement its innovative Service Pledge programme, thanks to support from the East of England Cancer Alliance.

The success of the Service Pledge in these hospitals in responding to local patient needs and feedback, has helped earn Breast Cancer Now a place as finalists in this year’s Patient Experience Network National Awards, with winners to be announced in September.Candice Service Pledge (1).jpg

Candice Johnson, 36, from East Tilbury in Essex, was diagnosed with breast cancer in August 2018 and had chemotherapy, surgery, and radiotherapy treatment at Basildon Hospital.

She was a patient representative for the Breast Cancer Now Service Pledge at the hospital and says: "Being diagnosed with breast cancer was a total shock. I found it challenging to adjust to the news and the impact it would have on my body. There were times during treatment that I felt I needed access to more support.

"The Service Pledge meant that the nurses and patients could have conversations about our experiences and what could be improved, and I felt that I had a voice. It’s really helped make a difference for breast cancer patients in my area."

Now the East of England Cancer Alliance and Breast Cancer Now are extending the programme to hospitals in the north of the region, which covers Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, Norfolk and Waveney, Suffolk and North East Essex.

Nick Hulme, Chief Executive at East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust, chairs the Cancer Alliance (north).

Nick said: “We know that great things can happen when cancer patients are asked what matters to them, as experts in their care, and their voices are heard.

“I welcome this opportunity for all our hospitals to work with Breast Cancer Now as part of its Service Pledge programme.

“We want to learn from patients, their families and carers, how to drive real changes now and to keep improving for the future, so that services are consistently high quality and responsive throughout our region.

” Baroness Delyth Morgan, Chief Executive at Breast Cancer Now, said: “It is wonderful to see the impressive patient-led service improvements already delivered as a result of the East of England Cancer Alliance signing up to our Service Pledge.

“We now look forward to supporting the north of the region as they too pledge to achieve the very best standards of care for all patients with breast cancer.

“By continually improving services, Cancer Alliances can support more people with breast cancer to live, and live well.

”Gini Melesi has more than 30 years' experience as a cancer nurse and is Head of Transformation at the East of England Cancer Alliance (south).

Gini said: "The Breast Cancer Now Service Pledge programme provided our breast cancer nurses with an opportunity to turn what their patients tell them they need into direct actions and to improve care for all patients with a diagnosis of breast cancer.

”The Breast Cancer Now Service Pledge is a programme dedicated to improving breast cancer services, bringing together patients, healthcare professionals and Cancer Alliances to work in partnership to design and deliver a concrete action plan of improvements, for everybody’s experience of breast cancer. To date, more than 120 breast services across the UK have worked with patients to develop their local Service Pledge, delivering over 400 improvements for primary and secondary breast cancer patients in the past five years.

The Breast Cancer Now Service Pledge, sponsored by Pfizer Ltd (2019-2021) has been helping to deliver lasting positive change to everyone’s experience of breast cancer since 2003 and also has a crucial role to play in future-proofing breast cancer services following the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.


Notes to Editors:  

East of England has two Cancer Alliances, North and South, working together with NHS organisations, local authorities, voluntary and community sector partners, to transform cancer services across the region.  

The Cancer Alliances bring together clinicians, commissioners, patients and members of the local community, to deliver better outcomes for patients through early diagnosis and more integrated and personalised care for all those affected by cancer.  

They also have a key role in supporting pioneering work on latest treatments and prevention of the disease through healthy lives.   

The East of England Cancer Alliances have an active Patient Participation Group which ensures that the views and experiences of local people affected by cancer are at the heart of their work.  

There are 21 Cancer Alliances in England, working to deliver the NHS Long Term Plan commitments for people affected by cancer.   

The ambitions will be delivered in a way that:   

  • improves quality of life outcomes;   
  • improves patient experience outcomes;   
  • reduces variation; and   
  • reduces inequalities 

For more information about Cancer Alliances, see NHS England » Cancer Alliances – improving care locally   

About Breast Cancer Now 

  • Breast Cancer Now is the UK’s first comprehensive breast cancer charity, combining world-class research and life-changing care. 
  • Breast Cancer Now’s ambition is that, by 2050, everyone who develops breast cancer will live and be supported to live well. 
  • Breast Cancer Now, the research and care charity, launched in October 2019, created by the merger of specialist support and information charity Breast Cancer Care and leading research charity Breast Cancer Now. 
  • Visit breastcancernow.org or follow us on Twitter or on Facebook
  • Anyone looking for support or information can call Breast Cancer Now’s free Helpline on 0808 800 6000. 

For more information or interview requests, contact Gillian Humphrey, Communications Manager, 07702 430031, Gillian.humphrey1@nhs.net

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