A Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board team has scooped a prestigious innovation award for its work helping patients suffering from cancer related fatigue (CRF).
The Clinical Psychology and Occupational Therapy team took the Macmillan Innovation Excellence Award recently at a Gala event at the Hilton Hotel, Wembley last week.
Macmillan Cancer allied health professional therapy lead within Betsi Cadwaladr, Jackie Pottle, received the prize on behalf of her colleagues, from Gail Porter.
Alongside consultant clinical psychologist Lisa Heaton-Brown, Jackie helped spearhead the development of a new service designed to raise awareness and improve support for cancer patients suffering with CRF.
As a result, the Clinical Psychology and Occupational Therapy services at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board teamed up to develop an innovative new support and training programme.
This included providing professionals working across north Wales with the latest information and best practice in supporting people with cancer-related fatigue.
It became a rolling programme of virtual education sessions for health professionals, as well as the development of interactive video-group clinics designed to help patients self-manage their fatigue.
Importantly it is a service to which cancer patients can refer themselves, rather than waiting to be signposted by a clinician.
Jackie said: “I am very honoured to receive this award, not just for myself but also on behalf of my colleagues for their tireless work in setting up this new service together.
“Feedback from cancer patients who have benefited from the initiative is they feel the new programme validates their own experiences – it acknowledges CRF is a very real and physically debilitating issue.
“The outcome was individual cancer patients felt they received direct, personalised support and developed coping strategies to help them to manage their fatigue in the future.
“The use of innovative, virtual peer support was vital in providing the support they so desperately needed.”
Jacqui Renwick, from Betws-yn-Rhos and diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer in October 2021, said the online clinics had helped her plan her life better and receive support from fellow sufferers.
She added: “Your mind is racing and putting terrible thoughts in your head, so the clinics were very positive for me.
“Actually, I think the key thing with the classes was realising you're not alone. You tend to feel very alone going through chemo and it was nice to see other people feel the same way as you.”
Betsi Cadwaladr’s acting chief executive, Gill Harris, said: “Jackie, Lisa and the team have shown the very best of what this health board is about and I’m delighted they’ve been recognised at such a prestigious event.
“They have taken a very important but little acknowledged issue and given comfort and support to cancer patients when they are at their most vulnerable. I’m really proud of the work they are doing and congratulate them all for this deserved recognition.”
Richard Pugh, Head of Partnerships for Macmillan Cancer Support in Wales said: “We couldn’t be more proud of Jackie and the wider team for what they have achieved.
“Cancer can affect every part of a person’s life and what Jackie’s work has done is not only to drill down into the very real issues facing cancer patients, but to develop a highly personalised level of support for people with cancer facing those issues in north Wales.
“The Macmillan Excellence Awards are an annual opportunity to show our appreciation for Macmillan professionals, who work tirelessly day in day out to make a real difference for people with cancer.
“The awards also highlight the vital partnership work that exists between Macmillan and partners like Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, where every Macmillan role is almost exclusively funded thanks to the public’s generosity.
“This year that work has been more vital than ever before, due to the pressures that the coronavirus pandemic continues to place on front-line cancer services.
“We have to offer a huge thanks to Jackie and everyone involved in this pioneering new project for making such a determined effort to improve care cancer care even within such a challenging environment.”