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5 Minutes with Northern Cancer Voices | Your Cancer Services

31 October 2022 - by David Allen

Ensuring the best possible quality of care and support for cancer patients and their family and friends is the priority for many organisations across the UK.

Northern Cancer Voices is one of such organisations and they have a a simple aim: to facilitate collaboration between health professionals and patients and their carer. We spoke to their Chair, Tori Bradison to find out more.

Tell us about your organisation? 

We are a group of volunteers, patients, carers, and health professionals with an interest in ensuring the best possible quality of care and support for cancer patients and their family and friends. We have established a Collaborative Group of health professionals, volunteers and patients covering the North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care System (ICS) – the largest ICS in the country. NCV is currently chaired by Tori Bradison. The Collaborative Group is supported by four regional groups who have representatives closer to local services and local cancer patients and their carers.

What services do you offer people living with cancer?

We are not a support group – we are a service improvement group. We signpost services, listen to those impacted and working in the cancer pathways, run surveys and ‘coffee and chat’ sessions to hear  and exchange personal experiences.

Do you have a target demographic who use your services?

We work with anyone over 25 impacted by a cancer diagnosis.

How are you funded?

We are not a charity. Northern Cancer Voices run via a Terms of Reference only and work under the umbrella of Thriving Together Northumberland when applying for funding. We have been lucky enough to get funding in 2022 from Macmillan to run coffee and chat mornings, attend events and promote the group. We have also been very fortunate in 2022 to get funding and support from Northern Cancer Alliance so that we can recruit an Engagement Officer to grow and stabilise the group, who was happily recruited to start in November 2022.

How have things changed for you since COVID-19?

The group was started during COVID. Previously there were individual cancer patient and carer groups but nothing that drew together all the roles involved in the patient pathway OR gave people in the NENC a chance to share learning. Covid allowed us to grow the group and reach people that were feeling isolated, we were able to maintain a connection with people that felt vulnerable. We were listening.

What’s the most rewarding thing about the work you do?

Sharing experiences – good and not so good. Meeting people and seeing them really make a difference to others. Being able to share learning across the region with those that can really influence the changes. Led truly by patient voice.

What would you say to those who are considering getting in touch with you but are nervous or apprehensive?

We don’t bite! We are patients, carers and all volunteers that have been or are currently going through cancer treatment. We don’t want anything from you – just your company. We make lovely cakes and hot drinks too!

Do you have testimonials from people that have used your services?

“Northern Cancer Voices provides a structured and effective approach to involving patients and their families in the development and improvement of cancer services across the North East and North Cumbria. The group are focussed on ensuring cancer services in our region are patient centred and address health inequalities. The group have developed and mobilised at a break neck speed and their achievements over a relatively short period of time should be acknowledged and celebrated. The group have actively supported the Northern Cancer Alliances commitment to involve patients, families and the wider public in all aspects of it work plan.” Northern Cancer Alliance Comms and Engagement Jo Mackintosh

“It’s remarkable that in a very short period of time Northern Cancer Voices has become such an important organisation in developing a collaboration of cancer voices across the North East and North Cumbria.  There is a great sense of belonging, sharing and strength within the group. We are learning from each other and are inspired by each other’s achievements.  Because of Northern Cancer Voices making changes and improvements to cancer services is absolutely possible.” Living with and Beyond Cancer North Cumbria – Jane MacFarlane

“NCV have brought together patients, volunteers, carers and health professionals across the North East and North Cumbria to share views, experiences and identify opportunities to enhance existing cancer services. The have a presence at local and regional engagement events and ensure that the patients views are at the heart of everything they do.”  Macmillan Engagement Lead – Andrea Love

Who works for you?

No-one apart from the newly appointed Engagement Officer with effect from 1st November 2022. We are all patients and volunteers. We work for the patient voice.

What are the values of your organisation?

Openness, Welcoming, Honesty, Confidentiality and Integrity

And finally, can you describe your organisation in 3 words?

Impartial, Inclusive, Enabling.

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