Hello, I’m Lucy Turner, the newly appointed Managing Director of the Humber and North Yorkshire Cancer Alliance.
I’m looking forward to re-joining you from 1st January 2023, having previously served as Programme Director in 2019. Until then I will be continuing in my Deputy Chief Operating Officer role at York and Scarborough Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
Cancer is such an evocative word because, according to Cancer Research UK, one in two people in the UK will develop cancer in their lifetime, while many more will be indirectly affected by supporting their friends and family after they receive a diagnosis. Cancer affects everybody in one way or another.
And no two cancer patient’s experiences or stories are the same so, while the Cancer Alliance and cancer service providers are understandably judged on the data (namely the time it takes for a referral for suspected cancer, or to receive a diagnosis of cancer, or to begin treatment), it is important not to view these figures in isolation.
I know this at first hand having lost a life-long friend to cancer before the pandemic. Gary was able to spend his final few weeks the way he chose, at home with his family and friends around him including his brass band mates playing his favourite tunes on the driveway.
We must always remember that there is a real person, often with a family behind every cancer diagnosis. At the end of the day, we all joined the NHS to help improve outcomes for patients, something I have always been passionate about.
This is why the Cancer Alliance has renewed its commitment to ensuring that the voice of people whom are affected by cancer are at the heart of service improvements.
Cancer Alliance colleagues are working with our patient and public representative group to review and refresh our approach to engagement and involvement of these individuals in the work that the Cancer Alliance carries out. More news on this to come over the next few months.
You might have read in NHS Chief Executive Amanda Pritchard’s winter resilience plan update last month that, nationally, the proportion of cancers detected at stage 1 and 2 is now higher than it was before the emergence of Covid; urgent cancer referrals are also above pre-pandemic levels; and cancer treatment and diagnostic activity levels are nearer 100% of pre-pandemic levels.
That is encouraging news but it’s important to note that cancer services are under a great deal of pressure across our region, as well as the rest of the country.
This winter promises to be one of the most challenging, if not the most challenging, winters on record for the NHS. We will have to work hard, collectively, in order that we continue to recover and sustain our cancer services and address the issues affecting our cancer patients in Humber and North Yorkshire.
Whilst there are many challenges to address, particularly around cancer waiting times, there are many exciting projects being delivered to help improve earlier diagnosis and outcomes for cancer patients in our region.
The Cancer Alliance’s mission remains to transform the diagnosis, treatment and care for cancer patients in the Humber and North Yorkshire area. That is my commitment to the memory of my friend Gary as well as all our patients and service users.