NHS staff at all levels in Wiltshire, Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, West Sussex and east Dorset will take part in the three-year-project.
At the end of the pilot there will be a network of staff who are better trained to identify problems and provide different levels of support. Staff across the region will have a better understanding of the psychological impact cancer can have on patients and their families. As part of the evaluation process, the research team should have a clearer idea of what types of psychological support these patients need.
Dr Kate Jenkins, Clinical Psychologist at Salisbury District Hospital said: "This is an exciting project that has been made possible thanks to the generosity of the Wessex Cancer Trust."
"We believe that as much as 50 per-cent of people with cancer could have some form of psychological distress at some point during their illness, yet in many cases this can be very difficult to detect."
"In many cases different levels of psychological support is all that may be needed to nip potential problems in the bud, alleviating symptoms and reducing instances that could lead to more serious psychological problems."
Problems could include depression, anxiety, body image issues and relationship difficulties. In some extreme cases, patients could experience psychotic symptoms.
Dr Jenkins said: "We think that this pilot project will have a number of benefits for cancer patients and their families. NHS staff in their day-to-day contact with patients are in an ideal position to spot any potential problems and provide help and support."
"This pilot will enable Salisbury psychologists to train a network of existing staff across the region to provide different levels of support within their own hospital environment. It will also provide researchers with the information that they need to get a clearer idea of what types of psychological support these patients need."
Dr Jenkins added: "The pilot will also benefit NHS staff. They will have the opportunity to increase their own skills and professional knowledge and, in the process, build up a better understanding of the psychological impact that cancer can have on patients and their families."
The £400,000 grant from Wessex Cancer Trust will be spread over a three-year period. This also includes money for a researcher to evaluate the training programme, as well as staff and patient surveys and audits.
The Wessex Cancer Trust was established in 1981 to provide relief for people with cancer and their carers. It also promotes research into the disease and to support education into the causes of cancer, its prevention and treatment.
Over the last 25 years, the Wessex Cancer Trust has grown into a major regional charity committed to improving cancer care throughout the Wessex region, which includes the Isle of Wight and the Channel Islands. A founding principle of the Trust is that funds raised are to be distributed within the region.
Mrs Tina Wellman-Hawke of the Wessex Cancer Trust said: "This is an exceptional research project and one where we see so many potential benefits for cancer patients and their families across the Wessex region. We would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who have donated money to the Wessex Cancer Trust. It is their generosity that has enabled us to provide a grant for this particular project, as well as a number of other worthwhile causes across the region." Ends
Notes to editors:
The Wessex Cancer Trust celebrates its 25th anniversary this year and in over quarter of a century it has raised over £14 million to help cancer patients and their families across the region.
Major projects include funding of a half a million towards the building of the Piam Brown Children’s paediatric oncology unit at Southampton General Hospital and the provision of 6 mobile mammography vehicles, which have screened well over a million women for breast cancer. The Wessex Cancer Trust has also set up the Wessex Wight Appeal to raise money for a new Chemotherapy Unit for St Mary’s Hospital on the Isle of Wight. This project will help provide patients with the facilities on the Island rather than travelling to the mainland, a very exhausting journey at such a difficult time.
The Wessex Cancer Trust also provides telephone advice together with counselling and complementary therapy services as well as funding patient grants. Leaflets on all types of cancer and helpful information are also available.
For further information please contact:
Patrick Butler, Public Relations Manager, Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust.Tel: 01722 425170.
For information about the Wessex Cancer Trust please contact:
WCT – Bellis House, 11 Westwood Road, Southampton, SO17 1DL. Tel: 02380 672200. Website: www.wessexcancer.org