New Macmillan navigators will improve support for people living with cancer

A cancer diagnosis is never easy to receive and can affect a person for the rest of their life but a new team based at the West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (WSFT) is trying to make things that bit easier for people living with or beyond cancer.

The Macmillan cancer care navigator service is working with West Suffolk Hospital and local GP surgeries to offer people the chance to have a one to one, personal conversation about their non-medical needs, such as worries about money or feelings of anxiety. The navigators will then direct people to the right information and support services in their area.

The service can support patients, their families and carers by:

• providing practical information and support about their cancer;

• explaining the financial support available, and how patients can access it;

• exploring what is important to their physical and emotional wellbeing; and

• signposting or referring them to local activities and resources.

They offer a phone call consultation to explore a patient’s needs and face-to-face support sessions in the community, as part of a two-year trial period funded by Macmillan Cancer Support.

Patients aged 18 and over can self-refer by calling or emailing the navigator team themselves, or alternatively, a health professional or GP can make a referral on a patient’s behalf. Support is available from the time someone is first diagnosed, while they are going through treatment and beyond.

The new team of five are excited to start their new roles, and have already seen the benefits of what they offer to patients in the local area.

Helen Ayers, Macmillan navigator at WSFT, said: “It’s so rewarding to make that first phone call to a patient who wants support. I love being able to give them my time to listen, understand and identify any areas where we can assist them. A cancer diagnosis can often bring about other unexpected difficulties in a person’s life, such as money worries or anxiety, and the impact of cancer doesn’t stop when treatment ends. Our job is to support with those other life complications.”

Sally Legge, Macmillan Partnership Manager for Suffolk, said: “Cancer affects more than your health but people tell us they often struggle to find all the help and support they need. The new Macmillan navigator service aims to improve support for people with cancer in West Suffolk with all the challenges and changes they may go through.

“We’re so grateful for the ongoing support of the public that enables Macmillan to fund projects like the navigators to help the growing numbers of people with cancer live life as fully as they can.”

East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust is introducing its own navigator team in early 2020.

To find out more or to ask for support, please call the WSFT Macmillan Navigator Cancer Care Service on 01284 713595 or email

Their opening hours are Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm, or out of hours please leave an answerphone message.

Pictured above are the new new Macmillan cancer care navigator team at the West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust.

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