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Glasgow is to become the first place in Scotland where all cancer patients are automatically offered financial, emotional and practical support.
In a UK first, social care services are working with the NHS to make sure cancer patients can access all the help they need – by making just one phone call.
The groundbreaking new service will see every newly diagnosed cancer patient in Glasgow sent a letter offering a visit from a dedicated worker.
The worker will then help the patient get all the help they need, from benefits advice and emotional support to help at home or child care.
Those behind the new service, including Macmillan Cancer Support, Glasgow City Council and NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde, say it's desperately needed.
The organisations revealed the number of cancer patients in Glasgow is increasing every year and many of them don't know where to go for help coping with the non-medical effects of the illness.
Macmillan, which has invested £3million in the new project, believes the service will be a real help to everyone living with cancer in the city.
Macmillan's director for Scotland, Elspeth Atkinson, said: “Cancer has a huge impact on every aspect of people's lives and many patients tell us they don't know where to turn for help.
“This new service should make sure everyone in Glasgow with cancer has someone to call on for help, no matter what they need.
“We hope this service will transform cancer support in Glasgow and make the city a place where no one needs to face cancer alone.”
City Treasurer at Glasgow City Council, Councillor Paul Rooney added: “The impact of cancer on someone’s health is understood; but it is too often overlooked that diagnosis can have far-reaching consequences in every part of a patient’s life from their finances to their family relationships.
“In Glasgow, we have been building the partnerships and services to ensure that nobody faces those challenges alone.
“In doing so, we have put in place the most comprehensive package of support for patients available anywhere in the UK. This project is the next step in making sure every patient is able to access that support as early as possible.”
Glasgow woman Janet Colthart says the service would have been a life line when her husband Alan was diagnosed with prostate cancer.
The 72-year-old, from Mount Vernon, said: "When Alan was diagnosed with prostate cancer he was told it was serious, that it was a nine, but we didn't know what that meant.
"We went home and were in shock. It was a month until his next appointment and we had no one to talk to or to get information from.
"I went online and found information but it wasn't a good feeling to be doing that alone.
"For over five years of Alan getting treatment we just muddled along, trying to cope. Then one day I met someone from Macmillan by chance and everything changed.
"Macmillan helped us get benefits and claim expenses for the taxis we had to get to hospital. It was just amazing. I didn't need to do a thing.
"I just wish we'd known about the help available from the very beginning but we didn't know anything about cancer or who could help us."
The project, which kicked off today (Feb 5), will begin by focusing on those with prostate, lung, colorectal, sarcoma and gynaecological cancer, before being extended within three months to all cancer patients.
Andrew Robertson, Chairman of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board, said: “We welcome this opportunity to work with our partners to provide a person-centred service for our patients.
“Being diagnosed with cancer can have a tremendous impact on a person’s life – not only in terms of the effect it will have on their health but also in how it affects their everyday lives.
“This innovative approach of providing financial, emotional and practical support may help ease the burden both on the patient themselves and their family and loved ones.”
To find out more about the Improving the Cancer Journey service visit www.glasgowimprovingcancerjourey.co.uk or call the service on 0141 287 7077.
For more information contact Michelle Gallacher from Macmillan Cancer Support on 0783 745 2506