Macmillan opens a Cancer Support Surgery School in Portsmouth

From left, nurse Charlotte Bellis, Dr Sarah Marston, Dr Yousra Ahmad and physiotherapist Erin Williams. Macmillan Cancer Support has opened its first Cancer Support Surgery School for patients at the Queen Alexandra Hospital, Portsmouth.
From left, nurse Charlotte Bellis, Dr Sarah Marston, Dr Yousra Ahmad and physiotherapist Erin Williams. Macmillan Cancer Support has opened its first Cancer Support Surgery School for patients at the Queen Alexandra Hospital, Portsmouth.
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Macmillan Cancer Support has opened a Cancer Support Surgery School for patients at Queen Alexandra Hospital.

Funded by Macmillan, patients undergoing major abdominal surgery will receive expert advice on preparing for and recovering from surgery.

Sessions take place on Monday afternoons in the Oasis Wellness Centre, with patients receiving a pedometer, Macmillan-provided information about healthy living, and physiotherapy sessions.

Patients are encouraged to attend with a family member or friend. Surgeries currently covered by the service include kidney removal, major bowel surgery, and oesophagus removal.

‘Simple changes can make a huge difference,’ Dr Yousra Ahmad, 39, consulting anaesthetist, said. 

‘A lot of “common sense” ideas about recovery can be harmful. The old days of "two weeks bed rest" are no more. We now understand the importance of getting up and moving as soon as possible.’

The simple exercises and advice offered by the support centre can address common post-operative issues like like bed sores, chest infections, and deep vein thrombosis. The support includes nursing staff being a point of contact throughout the patient’s treatment.

Charlotte Bellis, 42, senior sister, said: ‘People like having a familiar face throughout their treatment. We’ve had really positive feedback from patients. We have seen an attendance rate of 90 per cent, which is great.’

Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which pioneered pre-operative medicine, saw use of pre- and post-operative support centres halve the number of lung complications in major operation patients. QA runs similar schemes itself, but this is Macmillan’s first centre anywhere.

Macmillan Cancer Support Surgery School, which has been open for less than seven weeks, has supported more than 50 patients so far.

‘We hope we can expand over time,’ Dr Ahmad said.