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We’re more than just pretty pink ribbons

29 April 2019

Supporting patients and their families through a highly emotional time is one of the most important parts of Lyn Lawrenson’s role.

Lyn Lawrenson

Lyn, is the only Secondary Breast Cancer Nurse Specialist at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT), with her role focusing on attending clinics with patients who have had a secondary breast cancer diagnosis and supporting and signposting them and their families if they need psychological support.

Lyn supports 150 patients, across the Trust’s three main hospital sites, who have received a secondary breast cancer diagnosis (also known as metastatic cancer), which means that cancer cells have spread to other parts of the body.

The secondary breast cancer nurse specialist role, is funded by Macmillan Cancer Care for the first two years, and was introduced to the Trust in 2018 to give patients and their families more emotional support and advice.

Lyn, a former sister and staff nurse at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary’s Oncology Unit, said: “Before my role was introduced, our secondary breast cancer patients were being seen by the oncologist without any cancer nurse specialist support, which meant that the information and support, being provided was pretty limited.

“My role is really about being visible to our patients and supporting them. I attend clinics with them so patients have more time to discuss how they are feeling and if they or their families are suffering from any psychological or emotional issues I can signpost them to make sure they are getting the best possible care. I also carry out a holistic needs assessment, self-management and survivorship needs.”

According to Cancer Research UK, there are 55,122 cases of invasive breast cancer in the UK. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK accounting for 15% of all new cancer cases. There are an estimated 36, 000 people in the UK

living with Secondary Breast Cancer.

Lyn added“It is a massively emotionally time for patients and their families so it is important that they get the right support. Some of the patients that I see are on anti-hormone treatments and being reviewed every three months, some are on active chemotherapy and being reviewed every three weeks, some are in the palliative care stages.

“I cover the Trust’s three different sites supporting these patients in clinic and also remotely by telephone. Patients have fed back to me that they feel much more supported and less isolated since I started the post.”

To enable her patients to get the best from her role, Lyn started a Listening into Action Scheme and carried out a survey with her patients to see what they wanted to see and has tailored her role to fit her patient’s needs.

Listening into Action (LiA) is a fundamental shift in the way we work and lead. Its aim is to engage with and empower, all staff to make the changes that they think will improve not only the services we offer to patients but also, the experience our staff get working in our hospitals. Listening into Action has been developed by Optimise Limited and has been adopted by over 70 NHS Trusts since 2010. UHMBT is a licenced LiA Trust.

Patient feedback on Lyn’s role has included:

“Fighting our corner and on our side.”

“I now have continuity in my care.”

“Works tirelessly to chase up appointments, scans, blood tests and results.”

Lyn has also worked with the Trust’s Health Informatics team to design a new form on the electronic patient record system, which allows her to input and find all of the information regarding her patients in one place.

The form can be accessed by clinicians and nurses in the Emergency Department, Acute Medical Unit and other departments across the Trust – this is vital for the continuity of care, patient experience and partnership working. The Trust can also collect secondary breast cancer data and identify any trends in the cases seen.

Lyn will also be carrying out some improvement work in conjunction with Dr Karen Oliver, a local GP and Pauline Robinson, Macmillan Lead Cancer Nurse, to develop a more efficient and time-sensitive process to keep general practice informed of changes in patient condition and treatment regimens.