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Altnagelvin team who go above and beyond for people with cancer scoops prestigious Macmillan award


Macmillan Professionals Conference 2021. Keynotes. Winners on stage with Richard Blackwood. One free editorial reproduction only within context of accompanying press release.

A Macmillan Team based at the North West Cancer Centre has been honoured with a prestigious Macmillan Professionals Excellence Award, recognising the outstanding contribution they have made to cancer services.

The Head and Neck AHP/CNS Team based at Altnagelvin Hospital has been awarded the Innovation Excellence Award which recognises individuals and teams who have introduced a new approach to service or product development and delivery for their inspirational work to support local people living with cancer.

The Western Trust Acute Oncology Triage Team were also named as finalists in the Integration Excellence category.

The annual awards recognise the incredible work of Macmillan professionals and teams across the UK over the past year and beyond. The Macmillan team was nominated by colleagues for their dedication to supporting people living with head and neck cancer.

To help patients feel better prepared for their treatment and deliver better outcomes, the Head and Neck Cancer Team worked with patients to co-design an innovative prehabilitation initiative.

This takes the form of tailored sessions where patients come to the cancer centre to meet with their radiographer, speech and language therapist, dietitian, and clinical nurse specialist two weeks before radiotherapy begins. Not only does this allow patients to understand the roles within the team, but it also means they can be screened for and supported with any existing speech, swallowing, eating, nutritional or mental health issues before treatment. Each patient is also shown a bespoke radiotherapy video and given a leaflet on side effects, both of which were created by the team in direct response to patient feedback.

“Developing this service and creating these resources has made us feel really proud,” says Macmillan Clinical Lead Speech and Language Therapist, David Curtin. “It feels so new and ground-breaking. Seeing its positive impact has been the icing on the cake. We feel our team is a role model for others given our unwavering commitment to challenging current practice and positive feedback provided by our patients.”

Una Cardin, Assistant Director of Cancer and Diagnostics at the Western Trust said, “We are delighted that two of our teams from the North West Cancer Centre were finalists in the UK wide Macmillan Professionals Excellence Awards.

“A huge congratulations to our Head and Neck Cancer AHP/CNS Team who were announced winners in the Innovations Excellence Award. This co-produced project encouraged patients to become involved in their ‘cancer story’ to reduce anxiety. It utilised personal prehabilitation care plans and structured interventions.

“Also well done to The Macmillan Acute Oncology and Triage Team who were finalists in the Integration Excellence category for improving patient pathways during the pandemic. This new pathway reduced the number of oncology and haematology patients attending the Emergency department, provided a safer pathway for clinically extremely vulnerable oncology and Haematology patients and improved patient and family satisfaction.

“Both teams were incredibly worthy finalists and we are extremely proud of their achievement.”

Head of Partnerships for Macmillan in Northern Ireland, Janice Preston said,

“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.

“This year that work has been more vital than ever, due to the challenges that the coronavirus pandemic has brought.

“We are incredibly proud of both the Macmillan Acute Oncology and Triage Team who were named as finalists, and the Macmillan Head and Neck AHP/CNS Team; both demonstrated their continued commitment to going above and beyond in their work.”

Macmillan’s prestigious and independent awards highlight excellence across the UK and the impact of Macmillan professionals and teams who have done whatever it takes to support people living with cancer.

The awards allow Macmillan to celebrate the professionals’ unique spirit by showcasing not just what Macmillan professionals do, but how they do it.

If you have been affected by cancer and need support, information or a chat, call Macmillan Cancer Support free on 0808 808 00 00 (Monday to Friday, 9am–8pm) or visit