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‘NHS Heroes’ deliver first class cancer care for Penny

Thursday, 03 July, 2014
‘NHS Heroes’ deliver first class cancer care for Penny

A Northumberland woman who was successfully won her battle with early stage breast cancer has thanked her ‘NHS Heroes’ at North Tyneside General Hospital who have supported her along the way.

43 year old Penny Harper from Blyth was diagnosed in March 2009 and is now getting on with her life, three and a half years on from undergoing surgery, a course of chemotherapy and follow up ‘Herceptin’ treatment.

Penny still goes back to North Tyneside General Hospital for regular check-ups and support appointments and felt inspired to nominate her two NHS Heroes who have helped her understand and accept the cancer diagnosis and get on with life after treatment.

Macmillan Breast Care Nurse Specialist Amanda Walshe has looked after Penny from the day she was diagnosed and Principal Clinical Psychologist Dr Jackie Bailey has helped her to move forward mentally and emotionally.

Penny said: “I can’t speak highly enough of the care I’ve received from Amanda and Jackie and the North Tyneside team. Needless to say, there are many people who cared for me brilliantly, but these two were particularly key emotionally – their actions will stay with me and my husband forever.

“From day one, I’ve been able to call Amanda whenever I have a worry – even three years on.  She’s endlessly supportive – her compassion knows no bounds.  Her energy and positivity really helped in the days when fear was stronger than hope and she was my ‘translator’ of the scary stuff – a real top quality health professional.

“Jackie has also been an absolute rock in helping me get back on my feet after cancer and has actually given me a better understanding of myself post cancer than before.  I would recommend that people going through treatment or in the ‘gap’ after treatment, consider the option of psychological support, even if initially they think it may not be for them.

“I struggled with the fact that I was considered cancer free and had a great outcome, but didn’t necessarily feel as hopeful as I should.  Jackie helped me to manoeuvre through this difficult time and taught me to be compassionate, rather than dismissive, of the fears that can haunt you long after treatment, however successful the outcome.  She has helped me to embrace and accept the present which has been invaluable in my return to health and happiness”.

“The time around cancer treatment and beyond is semi-surreal and you need solid professionals to steer you through it.  Both my husband and I feel that these guys have not just saved my life, but they’ve helped me to ‘live’ again.

Penny added: “It is so reassuring to know that the North Tyneside Team and Oncology Day Unit are there to support patients and their families going through a cancer diagnosis and treatment in 2012 and I send everyone undergoing treatment my best wishes”.

NHS Heroes 2012 is a national recognition campaign launched by NHS Chief Executive Sir David Nicholson to recognise NHS staff going the extra mile to deliver exceptional care.  Members of the public up and down the country have nominated their local NHS Heroes.

Jim Mackey, Chief Executive of Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust joined Penny Harper to surprise her NHS Heroes Amanda and Jackie.  He said:  “Delivering a first class patient experience is a top priority for us and I am delighted to hear that Penny has had such fantastic care to help her cope with cancer.

“Taking the extra time provide good quality information, emotional support and practical help, alongside world class medical care, is so important when supporting patients who have been diagnosed with cancer and I would like to personally thank Amanda and Jackie.

“We have many doctors and nurses caring for cancer patients right across Northumberland and North Tyneside who I am sure are also worthy of NHS Hero recognition and also deliver exceptional care, day in day out, at what can often be a particularly distressing time for patients and their families.”

NHS Chief Executive Sir David Nicholson said: “NHS Heroes is a celebration of the very best in the NHS. Whether they are working behind the scenes or on the front line, it is the job of every NHS staff member to save lives and care for people through their most difficult times.

“We know that NHS patients and their families remember, often for the rest of their lives, the little kindnesses and extra effort of the people who cared for them when they were ill.

“In turn, those people delivering front-line care are supported by an army of behind-the scenes workers whose own dedication and commitment keeps the NHS running smoothly.”

Cancer services at Northumbria Healthcare are consistently rated as among the best in England, with teams of specialist consultants and nurses providing care to hundreds of patients every single day both in hospital and in the community across North Tyneside and Northumberland.

In the 2012 national Cancer Patient Experience Survey of over 160 NHS Trusts, Northumbria Healthcare was rated the fourth best performing organisation across the whole of England.