Yorkshire Times
A Voice of the North
3:52 PM 4th February 2021

CEO Of Macmillan Cancer Support Lynda Thomas Thanks Leeds’s Dynamic Transformation Of Cancer Services

World Cancer Day – 4th February

Over the past few years, cancer services in Leeds have been rapidly developing to help the city reach its ambition for being the best city in the UK for Health and Wellbeing. Since 2016, external funding initially invested by Macmillan Cancer Support to establish the Leeds Cancer Programme has brought upwards £6.5m of extra funding to cancer services in the city, alongside the breadth of services already provided by the NHS in Leeds at the world-class Leeds Cancer Centre at St James’s University Hospital.

Thursday 4th February marks World Cancer Day and Lynda Thomas, CEO of Macmillan Cancer Support, has made a video ‘thank-you’ to recognise the significant contribution the Leeds Cancer Programme has made to Macmillan’s goals:

Leeds Cancer Programme Clinical Director, Professor Sean Duffy:

“It is fantastic to see such appreciation and support for the transformational work the Leeds Cancer Programme and its partners have achieved. By working together as an integrated health and care system, we have been able to make real change and investment and I am grateful to my colleagues including Leeds City Council, Public Health, Yorkshire Cancer Research, CR-UK and our own NHS in Leeds for their role in this dynamic programme of work. Thank you Lynda Thomas for acknowledging Leeds’s complex and progressive strategies”

“By working together to help improve cancer outcomes for the people of Leeds, we have been able to achieve lasting transformation in technology, diagnostics and support, as well as addressing health inequalities apparent in our communities by ensuring we improve the health of our poorer neighbourhoods.”

Over the last year, whilst cancer screening and services have been disrupted by the huge pressure on the health and care services with the effects of COVID-19, the programme has continued to adapt to ensure a focus on prevention, earlier diagnosis and supporting people who have been diagnosed with cancer. This includes the ongoing development of Rapid Diagnostic Services, optimizing the referral processes from GP to urgent hospital appointments, as well as establishing the Cancer Community Support Service in some areas of Leeds.

The Cancer Programme has also focussed on addressing significant ‘Health Inequalities’ that are apparent across the city. For example, across Leeds, residents in poorer, inner-city and southern areas on average live ten years less than residents in the more affluent northern areas, and also suffer many more years of ill-health.

Sadly, cancer screening test uptake rates are much lower in the deprived areas of the city, compared to the north. Some of the work the Programme is undertaking to address this is:

Developing a Health Inequalities programme of work with colleagues in Leeds City Council and Public Health and aligning this to Leeds Health and Well-being Strategy

Working with GP’s to create ‘Cancer Champions’

Delivering key cancer prevention, diagnosis and support messages in new ways, including the live streaming on Facebook of 3 GPs and a cancer specialist to reach new audiences in new ways, so far reaching 1,700 views

Developing patient-shaped services, such as the new Saturday cervical screening hub in Bramley, Wortley and Middleton Primary Care Network following feedback from local women who told us there were barriers to accessing existing services

Ongoing support and resources to an army of GP based ‘Screening Champions’ who contact patients and non-responders to invitations for bowel and cervical screening appointments about the importance of screening

Working with Leeds Cancer Awareness services on projects such as equipping vulnerable young people with knowledge of cancer signs and symptoms, and ensuring access to correct online advice for all by establishing ‘Digital Champions.’

In Leeds there are approximately 25,000 people living with and beyond cancer and around 4,000 new diagnoses every year.

World Cancer Day is an annual event held on the 4th February. Its aim is to empower all across the world to raise a collective voice about cancer, and to celebrate cancer in a positive and inspiring way.