UWE Bristol Professor to lead new rehabilitation service for women with radiation-induced injuries

Issue date: 10 August 2012

UWE Bristol's Professor Candy McCabe is to lead a new Breast Radiotherapy Injury Rehabilitation Service for women who have suffered radiation-induced injuries following breast cancer treatment.

The service will be based at the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases NHS Foundation Trust (RNHRD), and is funded by the National Specialist Commissioning Team.

Professor Candy McCabe is Consultant Nurse at the RNHRD, she said, “The new service was piloted by the RNHRD in 2011 and feedback has been extremely positive with patients appreciating a tailored service that meets their specific healthcare needs and the ability to talk to clinicians who understood their problems.

“Around 250 women in the UK suffer with severe, chronic and complex conditions arising from these radiation-induced injuries, including continuous pain and a loss of arm movement, breathing difficulties and damage to bone or soft tissue. The risk factors that led to these injuries are well understood today and are now carefully avoided.”

The new service is now open and referrals can be directed to Professor Candy McCabe.

The Bath based RNHRD will lead this new service and work in conjunction with the Royal United Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Bath, Bart's Health NHS Trust, London and The Christie NHS Foundation Trust, Manchester.

Together they will provide long term rehabilitation support, including specialist intensive therapies for the complex healthcare needs of this group of women.

This service is endorsed by the National Cancer Action Team and Macmillan Cancer Support, who have worked with the patient support group Radiotherapy Action Group Exposure (R.A.G.E.) to conduct a lengthy campaign for the provision of appropriate healthcare for this client group.

Professor Jane Maher, Chief Medical Officer at Macmillan Cancer Support and Chair of the Maher Committee for the Department of Health, said: “R.A.G.E. are to be congratulated for continuing to lobby for specialist services to meet the needs of those they represent - I am delighted that they have finally achieved this”.

The RNHRD is a national centre of excellence for the provision of this type of highly specialised, multi-disciplinary care for people with complex rehabilitation needs. The oncology expertise of the three collaborating NHS Trusts will ensure the service is embedded within the Cancer Networks and that knowledge gained from this service will inform future Cancer care.

Janice Millington, from the patient support group R.A.G.E. said: “We welcome this announcement; these are women who have suffered with a wide range of rehabilitation needs for the past 20 to 30 years.

“Although this is a rare condition the physical and mental impact over this time cannot be underestimated, and as these women get older their problems are increasing and being complicated by other chronic illnesses.

“No two patients have the same symptoms, so this multidisciplinary approach is essential. The new service will ensure these women can have regular and quick access to a highly specialised team who understand their condition and healthcare needs. This should have a positive, long term impact on the health and quality of life of these women.”


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