BREAST cancer patients and doctors at Barnsley Hospital have joined forces in a bid to improve services for women as part of an innovative scheme.

The Chronicle can reveal the experiences of survivors and those who are currently battling the illness are being used to help shape what is on offer locally thanks to a scheme from charity Breast Cancer Now.

It aims to deliver a lasting change to transform the experience of thousands of people with breast cancer and will play a ‘crucial role’ in future-proofing breast cancer services in the wake of the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Feedback from nearly 1,000 primary and incurable secondary breast cancer patients - relating to their experiences and what matters most to them - was gathered as part of the plan.

Improvement plans for the hospital have now been created and will be rolled out over the next 18 months.

Julia Dicks, consultant breast surgeon, said: “It is a priority to us that we listen to patient feedback and use that insight to transform and improve services and experiences for our patients.

“This pledge has allowed us to do this on a greater level.

“We are really pleased that by working collaboratively with patients, health care professionals and Breast Cancer Now, we have been able to identify key service improvements.

“These improvements will increase the quality of experience for patients with breast cancer and their loved ones and carers.”

More than 10,000 Barnsley women were not up to date with potentially life-saving cancer checks last year, figures show, and it’s hoped the improvements will lead to more screenings taking place.

The data shows that 55 per cent of eligible women in Barnsley were up to date with their screenings at the end of March last year, meaning roughly 13,045 were not.

Baroness Delyth Morgan, chief executive at Breast Cancer Now, added: “We’re delighted that the hospital has pledged to achieve the very best standards of care for patients with breast cancer.

“It’s wonderful that by supporting patients and healthcare professionals to work collaboratively to discuss experiences and address feedback, our programme has helped deliver improvements to breast cancer services.

“I am confident that the patient-led service improvements will make a big difference to breast cancer patients, their loved ones and hospital staff.

“Screening uptake has hit its lowest point in history despite NHS staff working tirelessly, in the toughest of circumstances, to restart and continue breast screening services.

“Breast screening is a vital tool for detecting breast cancer early, and the sooner it’s diagnosed the more likely treatment is to be successful.

“If you’re experiencing breast cancer we’re here, whenever you need us - be it through our support services, trusted breast cancer information or our specialist nurses who you can reach via our free helpline and 24/7 online forum.

“Backed by dedicated campaigners, we’re fighting for the best possible treatment, services, and care, for anyone affected by breast cancer.”