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New role to support patients with secondary breast cancer


 Ruth Fox, secondary breast cancer clinical nurse specialist

Northampton General Hospital now has a Macmillan clinical nurse specialist (CNS) available to every patient who has been diagnosed with, or who is suspected of having, secondary breast cancer - where the disease has spread to other organs, such as the liver, lungs, or bones.

Ruth Fox’s new role helps to support patients at every stage of their metastatic disease, at diagnosis, during treatment and afterwards, by co-ordinating any investigation, treatment and follow-up care.

New role is like "key worker"
The role, sometimes known as the patient’s ‘key worker’, involves providing information and explaining treatment. The CNS is available to patients and their family or friends for emotional support and advice throughout their illness, on issues such as managing pain and other symptoms, and acting as the link between patients and all the team involved in providing their care. The key worker also telephones patients to offer support, can arrange additional help for patients at home and provide benefits advice where applicable.

Ruth, who was formerly a skin cancer nurse specialist, said: “I felt it was time for a new challenge. There’s a very big caseload, with a lot more inpatients, a lot more complex needs in terms of symptom control – so it’s very busy, but a really rewarding job.”

Ruth offers support and symptom control to patients in both the outpatient and inpatient setting. She works to either avoid admission by timely intervention and liaison with community staff, or help to reduce length of stay by ward assessment, referral to other agencies and discussing preferred place of care.

The new post is funded by Macmillan cancer care based on an unmet need for this group of patients being identified by the hospital, and Ruth is delighted with the results so far: “I’ve had some really positive feedback from patients, and I’m getting more and more calls for advice and support – which is exactly what the role is for. Those living with secondary breast cancer require specialist support to address their complex needs and the uncertainty they face about the future. It is good to know that we’re helping to ensure they receive the best possible treatment and care.”

Ruth also provide education, advice and support to ward staff caring for secondary breast cancer patients,

Referrals are by welcome by phone, email or in writing from healthcare professionals in secondary and primary care. All patients will be offered a contact card for the CNS and written information if they want it.

Patients with stable disease who have no complex or unmet needs will be discharged by the CNS, but will retain contact details and are free to resume contact at any point in the future

Ruth can be contacted on or 01604 544532

Posted on Tuesday 12th April 2016
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