Belfast City Hospital receives top award for cancer care23rd August 2022
Belfast City Hospital has scooped a national award for its commitment to patients living with incurable blood cancer.
The hospital’s haematology team was presented with the Myeloma UK Clinical Service Excellence Programme (CSEP) Award in recognition of its outstanding care and dedication to patients with myeloma, an incurable blood cancer that claims the lives of 3,000 people in the UK each year.
Belfast City Hospital is the first hospital in Northern Ireland to receive the award.
Staff were praised for their commitment to improving patients’ quality of life and eagerness to adapt and truly listen to their needs.
The accolade, awarded by charity Myeloma UK, recognises hospitals’ commitment to raising the bar for treatment and providing compassionate and personalised care to patients.
Dr Sarah Lawless, Consultant Haematologist at Belfast City Hospital, said: “This is a considerable achievement and demonstrates the hard work and dedication of the entire team located at Belfast City Hospital in providing high standards of care.
“As a team, we focus on ensuring patients and their families receive the best possible care and support. We are particularly proud of our fantastic nurse-led clinics, home-delivery service and close working relationships with other specialities.
“We continue to look for ways to improve and expand our service while constantly advocating for our patients.”
She added: “We are humbled by the positive feedback received via the accreditation process. It is an honour for us to care for patients with myeloma and a privilege to receive national accreditation.”
Myeloma is especially hard to spot as its symptoms are often vague and dismissed as ageing or other minor conditions. It affects around 900 patients in Northern Ireland.
“As a team, we focus on ensuring patients and their families receive the best possible care and support. We are particularly proud of our fantastic nurse-led clinics, home-delivery service and close working relationships with other specialities. We continue to look for ways to improve and expand our service while constantly advocating for our patients.”
By the time many patients are diagnosed, their cancer has often advanced and they require urgent treatment. This can significantly impact their chances of survival and quality of life. Between 80 and 90 people die from myeloma every year in Northern Ireland.
Jess Turner, Clinical Practice Services Senior Projects Officer at Myeloma UK, said: “Myeloma is a complex cancer, which can be challenging to manage, so we were extremely impressed by the team’s willingness and ability to adapt and offer bespoke care.
“They always go the extra mile to understand individual patients’ needs and make sure they feel safe when they’re at their most vulnerable. For example, the team expanded the hospital’s delivery service allowing myeloma patients across Northern Ireland to receive certain treatments in their own home.
“Thanks to the dedicated clinics led by nurses Jackie Quinn and Christine Coyle, patients are not only able to tackle the physical challenges of living with myeloma, but address and learn to cope with the emotional, practical and financial impact of their diagnosis.”
Patient Gareth Alexander from Bangor was diagnosed with myeloma in June 2019 after months of unexplained chest pains. He was just 43 years old. He has been treated at Belfast City Hospital ever since.
“Right from the very first time I was sent there, every one of the nurses has been fantastic,” said the father-of-two, who works in IT. “I had never heard of myeloma and Jackie and Christine were really great with me and explained not only the medical side of it, but the home aspect.
“My treatment coincided with the pandemic, but you would not have known – the whole staff were amazing,” added Gareth, whose chest pains were initially thought to be muscular. When he was eventually sent for further tests, an x-ray showed a tumour, known as a plasmacytoma, on his chest. He has since received chemotherapy, radiotherapy and a stem cell transplant.
“Since my transplant, I haven’t needed to go to the hospital as much for face-to-face appointments, but I know they’re still there if I need them. And I have two youngish kids so it means I’m not disappearing off all the time to hospital appointments,” he added.
“I get a phone call to tell me my test results and there is 24 hour helpline if I need it. They also deliver my drugs at home now. They really help you live a normal life.”