12 May 2016
A plea was made today by Colchester's Macmillan Head of Cancer Nursing for more people to join the Cancer User Group at Colchester Hospital Trust.
The group consists of people whose lives have been affected by cancer, either as patients or carers, who work collaboratively with the Trust's health care professionals to shape cancer services.
It was set up by Emma Sweeney after she took up the post of Macmillan Head of Cancer Nursing in November 2014.
"At that time, there was some well-founded criticism, including from Healthwatch Essex, that the Trust was not actively engaging enough with cancer service users and their carers," she said.
"The Cancer User Group is not a patient support group but a way of using the experience of patients and carers, past and present, to make a difference.
"Fundamentally, it is about making sure that the patient's voice is heard and actively listened to when we are planning cancer services."
The Trust provides radiotherapy and oncology (cancer) services to a population of about 670,000 people across north and mid Essex.
Ms Sweeney said that the Cancer User Group met at Colchester General Hospital during the day every three months.
She chairs the group and is the only health care professional on it, but would prefer a patient or carer to take on the role of Chair.
Its members are also involved with other groups, such as the Trust's Cancer Board, the East of England Strategic Clinical Network for Cancer and a group covering north east Essex whose members include representatives from the Trust, North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group and GPs.
Ms Sweeney is keen to recruit a broad cross-section of people from north east Essex to the Cancer User Group in terms of age and cancer type.
It is entirely up to members how much time they devote to the role, she added. For example, it was fine if people committed themselves only to its quarterly meetings.
At the meetings, it is common for Trust health care professionals involved in cancer services to give talks.
* Anyone requiring more information or wanting to join the Cancer User Group is asked to Emma Sweeney. Tel 07917 201164 or email email@example.com