A doctor has been hired to improve cancer education, earlier diagnosis and support in Richmondshire.
Funded by Macmillan Cancer Support and employed by local health commissioners, NHS Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), Dr Michaela Amann was appointed to the new role of Macmillan GP for Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby last year.
During 2014-15, 666 people per 100,000 across Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby (HRW) areas were diagnosed with a new cancer.
This is higher than the national average of 523 per 100,000.
Whilst HRW patients have higher than average attendance in general for the national cancer screening programmes (breast, bowel and cancer), there are pockets of the population, particularly vulnerable populations, who would benefit from additional support in order to improve their access to screening programmes, officials say.
In 2015, 55.5% of cancers were diagnosed at an early stage, which was higher than the national average but the ambition is to increase this to 62% by 2020/21. 70.8% of people diagnosed with cancer achieved at least a one year survival (2014) but it is hoped to increase this to 75% by 2020/21.
The data from the National Cancer Patient Experience Survey suggests there are opportunities to improve information about side effects of treatment and whether or not treatment is working, patient access to a care plan, information about financial support, greater involvement in decisions and opportunities to discuss fears.
Dr Charles Parker, local GP and Clinical Chair of the CCG said: “The aim of the role is to drive improvements along the entire cancer pathway from prevention and early diagnosis through to better support for people living with and beyond cancer.
“This will involve providing education and knowledge within the wider health community to recognise early signs and symptoms of cancers, supporting earlier diagnosis reducing the amount of cancers that are diagnosed through an emergency route and consequently improving outcomes and experiences for patients and their families.
“‘Upskilling’ GP colleagues and wider health professionals will increase their confidence in caring for cancer patients and providing support post diagnosis and treatment and into the longer term. The role also involves close working with colleagues working in the hospital setting as well as the local authority and the voluntary sector to develop seamless transfer of care between services.”
Dr Michaela Amann said: “After being in a very hands-on cancer role for a number of years, this is much more strategic giving me the opportunity to help develop cancer services across Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby areas.
“We’re already working on some exciting projects including improving cancer care for people with learning disabilities as well as appointing nurses to support people in their own communities who are going through cancer.
“A lot of my new role is to do with not only diagnosis and screening, but living with and beyond cancer – I saw a lot of need for that support – particularly whilst working GP and in the Friarage Hospital Breast Cancer services.”
Alongside her new role, Dr Amann is a part-time GP Partner at Stokesley Health Centre. Until recently, she was also a speciality doctor in the breast clinic at the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton which is currently developing the new Sir Robert Ogden Macmillan Cancer Centre on site.
Dr Amann continues: “It’s fantastic that the new Sir Robert Ogden Macmillan Cancer Centre is being developed in Northallerton. I will be involved in advising making sure the right services are made available to local patients.
“I want to help make cancer services in our localities as good as possible for patients, giving them a more streamlined service to live with and beyond cancer and support colleagues in doing so to create more confidence in services.”
The role of Macmillan GP for Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby is funded initially for two years in order to act as a liaison between primary and secondary care for cancer services.
Kieran Conaty, Macmillan Partnership Manager in the area, said: “Macmillan GPs play a very important role in improving cancer care. They can influence change and help ensure the highest possible standards for local patients diagnosed with cancer. We’re delighted that Dr Amann is now a Macmillan GP.”