Members of the East of England Cancer Alliance Patient Partnership Group (PPG) have been working on a co-production project together with staff from the alliance.

The coproduction group was set-up with the objective of improving access to health information to enable members of the Eastern European communities in Wisbech to make informed decisions about screening and cancer care. 

To this end the patient group made contact with the Rosmini Centre in Wisbech where many Eastern European people go on a regular basis for help and support.  Together with the centre manager, Anita Grodkiewicz as well as partners such as Macmillan and Healthy You, a series of  ‘health check sessions’ were organised.  The events gave attendees an opportunity get their points of view across and talk about their experiences of cancer care.  

Co-chair of the Patient Partnership Group, Marion Foreman said: “This led to much information sharing and we learnt about how many Eastern Europeans prefer to return to their country of origin for cancer treatment as they found their system easier to navigate and the expense wasn’t prohibitive. 

We were able to outline the benefits of screening and give out information on healthy lifestyles.  Those that attended were happy to share their experiences and discuss some of their confusion over the role of UK GPs as ‘gate keepers’ to a consultant (a concept with which they were not familiar).   

We had great support from the Rosmini centre staff, especially their interpreters.  A key learning point for us was not to translate words verbatim as so often the meaning was then lost.   

By working together as a team of patients and staff we negotiated through complex viewpoints.  A key benefit of this project was the relationships that the team built with the Rosmini staff that meant that we were in the Centre with the aim of learning and listening. 

More events are planned, which will be linked to the cancer awareness month calendar.  The growing audience shows the popularity of patient and public voices being heard in order to improve care and for us, the learning is in the listening."

Anita Grodkiewicz, manager of the Rosmini Centre added "Feedback from those who have attended the sessions has been very positive. Our service users found the sessions informative but more importantly welcomed the opportunity to discuss their health concerns in a relaxed atmosphere."