Tag Archives: Charing Cross Hospital

What's going to happen to NHS after Francis Report?

Five hospitals to be investigated


But is anyone naive enough to think things are going to



Two days after the report came out, the headlines have disappeared from the BBC website, showing the lack of interest shown by the general public.

Don’t get me wrong – Possibly 1,200 patients may have died earlier or even needlessly.  But their relatives won’t get much comfort from the report;  no-one’s head is to roll – no-one is accountable.  All Robert Francis has done is set up a massive industry for Consultant and Conference organisers to milk for the next decade.

But as nhsManagers.net says:

Hours before the Francis report was published Number 10 had decided that its 290 recommendations were not enough. One more was needed. The Prime Minister announced he alone had the solution; an Inspector of Hospitals. If that is the solution I suspect Francis would have said so. Why didn’t he? Because he knows what we know; it is bureaucracy that got us into this mess. More bureaucracy is the last thing we need. Daft idea but the lad has to look busy so he’s had his two-penny-worth. That’s the trouble; everyone will want to have their two-penny-worth. Two hundred and ninety one recommendations will become 291 headings, 500 sub-sets, 1,500 reports and three thousand complications, report-backs, work-groups, committees and a shed-load of costs.

The massive Francis report will be the NHS’ F-word for quite a while. What is missing from his report are a few more ‘F’ words;

But ‘Dave’ in No. 10 has a solution!

In response to the findings of the Francis Report into the failings at Mid-Stafford hospital, David Cameron announced that five other hospitals with persistently high death rates would be investigated. All the hospitals named have had high rates for two years.  Yet the Dept. Health has waited until now to act.

The hospitals are:

  • Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust
  • Tameside Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
  • Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust.

Death rates are calculated by looking at the number of people that would be expected to die when taking into account the age and disease profile of the local population.

High death rates were one of the factors that triggered the original investigation into Stafford Hospital. While not necessarily proof there is a problem, they are a “smoke alarm” suggesting there could be.

The figures for the five hospitals were already known about within the NHS and were being monitored

However, will grieving relatives have to wait another two years before a report comes out?  What these hopitals need is to appoint a Matron with the power to RUN the hospital, SACK incompetentS, decide WHERE funding is to go, and then do ward rounds EVERY day to talk to patients and LISTEN to their needs.

Don’t hold your breath – but be prepared for cost-saving measures such as Charing Cross Hospital:  they are throwing out the water fountains.

The Mid Staffs public inquiry

See Francis on this video – it makes sad viewing:


Robert Francis QC delivers his statement, saying: “This is a story of appalling and unnecessary suffering of hundreds of people”

There has been anger from some quarters after nobody lost their jobs as a result of the public inquiry.

James Duff’s wife Doreen died in the hospital. He said: “Not one person has lost their job over this – instead they have been promoted and some people have been moved sideways.

“This has been a disaster yet nobody is accountable.”

  • The public inquiry is the fifth major investigation into what happened
  • It has focused mainly on the commissioning, supervision and regulation of the trust from 2005 to 2009 – something campaigners felt had not been properly covered before
  • It was chaired by Robert Francis QC, who also led the fourth major investigation
  • It sat between November 2011 and December 2012 and cost £13m
  • More than 160 witnesses appeared at the hearings and one million pages of evidence have been sifted through
  • The final report contains 290 recommendations over nearly 1,800 pages.

He has also appointed Ann Clwyd, Welsh MP for Cynon Valley, to lead an investigation – now that’s more iike it.


in the meantime

The government’s full response to the public inquiry will come next month, however, it has already been announced that a new post of chief inspector of hospitals will be created in the autumn.

Speaking in the House of Commons, David Cameron said he was “truly sorry” for what happened at Stafford Hospital, which was “not just wrong, it was truly dreadful” and the government needed to “purge” a culture of complacency.

Sir David Nicholson (how did he get a knighthood?) has been the focus of anger from families affected by the scandal. He is chief executive of the NHS and was briefly in charge of the Regional Health Authority while death rates were high at Stafford Hospital.

Responding to calls for him to go, he said: “I think it’s perfectly understandable, I understand the anger that they feel, the upset that they feel about the treatment of their loved ones in Mid-Staffordshire hospital.

“I absolutely understand all of that. At the time I apologised and in a sense I apologise again to the people of Stafford for what happened, but apologies are not enough.

“We need action, we need to make things happen.”

Too right – but forgive my cynicism –

I think Patients and their Relatives are still going to

have to take on the collective might of the NHS to get the best

available  treatment.

If you have ideas – send a message to your MP, local hospital

and/or PCT:  let them now your views – and DEMAND an


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How to deal with the NHS

NHS logo
Image via Wikipedia

Have you tried these ways to get seen when you need medical attention?

Dealing with the NHS can be time wasting (ours) and sometimes non-productive (for patients).

The following points have been sent in by readers, who have found ways of getting round NHS admin, and been given  better service.

Hopefully one or two points might make a difference when you are being shuffled around.

Can’t get seen because Appointments office say referral fax hasn’t been received from your GP?
Tell them to go and switch over Fax machine from Photocopy mode to Fax mode.
Recently Chelsea and Westminster Hospital swore they hadn’t received a faxed referall letter which was urgent.  After three abortive phone calls, with GP’s surgery swearing they had sent fax through, I got through to Manager of the section.  He trotted down corridor, and came back to tell me he had found fax.

It had been sent, but was stuck in machine because this was turned to PHOTOCOPY mode.  What is worrying is that in last day or so no-one had bothered to find out why the department wasn’t getting any referral letters.

Need a longer consultation with your Doctor?
You have the right to ask the receptionist booking you an appointment with your GP to give you a double appointment;  i.e. 20 minutes instead of 10 minutes
Or pay to go privately – most private doctors work on 30 minute appointment slots

Can’t get an urgent appointment for tests/scans/MRI procedures?
At Charing Cross Hospital they are experimenting with opening the department at weekends.    Considering the capital cost of the machinery, it is criminal that these departments shut down from early on Friday until Monday morning.  In USA machines work “24/7” as hospitals are private, and owners won’t have expensive equipment lying idle.  But NHS doesn’t seem to worry about cost of these.

  • So ask why your local hospital’s Imaging Dept. isn’t open at weekends?
  • And make a phone call the the Foundation Office – the one that is always trying to get you to sign up so they can tell Dept. Health they have X thousand patients on their register.  Ask them why Imaging Dept isn’t open at weekends except for urgent cases?

Can’t face the long journey to hospital for chemo treatment?
If faced with chemo, and you don’t want the long journey to the treatment centre, or would rather have one-to-one attention from a nurse who stays with you during the whole process, ask your Consultant to refer you to Healthcare at Home.  This company is now rolling out teams of professional nurses across UK, who come to your home to administer chemo, visit you at home to take bloods samples, and send a driver before your treatment with all the drugs you need for that day.  MRSA of course, is far less likely.  Of Consultants who recommend this service to their patients, 100% said they were in favour.   www.hah.co.uk

What can women do to stay well?
One of best doctors I know says he always listens to his female patients – they know their own body best.  So if you feel something’s wrong:

  • Get to know your body – understand what’s normal for you and what you should do if things aren’t ‘normal’
  • Take charge of you body: take regular exercise, maintain a healthy weight, give up smoking
  • Checks: examine your body and act on any unexplained and unexpected changes – don’t wait – go and see your GP.  Whether this is irregular bleeding, lumps and bumps, changes in skin or bowel habits – sometimes these things will just point to a benign condition that can be easily cured – it is better to be safe than sorry
  • Understand what screening options are open to you and take them up
  • Find Wellbeing of Women’s easy-to-read information booklet on gynaecological cancers by emailing wellbeingofwomen@rcog.org.uk or calling 020 7772 6400. A copy of the booklet, ‘Your Guide to Gynaecological Cancers’ can also be downloaded from the website www.wellbeingofwomen.org.uk
  • To find out more or to become a Friend of Wellbeing of Women visit www.wellbeingofwomen.org.uk

Have to go to A & E?  But don’t want the wait?
Don’t be British and ‘stiff-upper-lip’. Call an Ambulance, don’t get someone to drive you.

If you arrive by Ambulance you are seen almost immediately and jump the queue.  Last time I had to go to A & E,  I had been deliberately knocked off my bike by a woman who drove off.  This happened right in front of our local hospital, and nurses came out to help.  One of them said she was calling an ambulance, but like a fool I said it would be quicker if she would help me hobble the ten yards.  I ended up waiting four hours before being seen, and was in deep shock by the time I got to top of queue.

If all else fails
Try and get an appointment with a vet!  Animals are seen straight away – no mention of waiting times!

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When you are unsteady on your feet

Representation of a Polio victim, Egypt 18th D...
We’ve had problems since then  Wikipedia

Hitting lamp posts isn’t funny

Patients with core stability and balance issues can have problems keeping their balance, especially if  they have had  muscular and other problems affecting mobility and balance.  As one sufferer comments, “I have formed an intimate relationship with the local lamp posts – they have saved me from many a fall”.

It’s even worse if you are unable to work because of moblity problems.  Those who can’t work can have a humiliating and tiring journey trying to get assesed for entitlement to benefits.  Long delays to see over-worked doctors;  these doctors often don’t have time to do more than a cursory test, so the patient may be able to ‘steal’ themselves to complete one test.

If there were time for repetitions (which there should be) the doctors would see that climbing stairs rather than three steps in a corner, walking for more than a few feet, and carrying out other tasks for more than a few seconds is impossible.  But there is never enough time, so patients can be denied benefits to which they are entitled.

Patient after patient has spoken of the almost-cruel indifference with which they are treated when they have mobility problems.  There can be long delays trying to get benefits, and if the assessor doesn’t understand your condition, you end up being told you don’t qualify. If you are trying to get medical help if your chronic condition worsens,  today’s NHS patient services are being cut and cut.

Conditions such as heart problems cancer, etc.  can leave behind poor mobility, but patients are made to feel it is part of the process, as they try to find ways to relieve joint pain and loss of momentum.

One polio survivor showed me a large X-ray of her spine outlining a well-defined S-bend of scoliosis, and said she had gone to the Lane Fox unit at St. Thomas’ Hospital to see if she could get onto their physio programme.  After a cursory examination, a doctor told her, “your spine is perfectly straight”. And denied her the treatment she desperately needed.

However, she was lucky – she ended up being looked after by Prof. Roberto Guiloff of Charing Cross Hospital.  When she told him what the Lane Fox doctor had said, he was so surprised he dropped her spinal X-ray.  He sent her to Esther Palmer (recently elected Physio of the Year by the Polio Fellowship), and the specially targeted exercises Esther gave her have reduced excruciating spinal pain to almost nothing.

She was lucky, but it is worrying that so many patients in Britain have problems being assessed, so that they can get the appropriate treatment and benefits.


But sometimes things are meant to happen, and when I went to Petriolo medical spa resort near Sienna, chatting to the Director, Dr. Brocchi, I mentioned I wrote articles about polio.

Immediately his eyes lit up.  “Have you tried our Pedana Stabilometrica machine?”  When I said no, Elizabetta Urgelli was summonded to take me through its paces.  Not only did I have great fun as I tried to work out what the machine was doing – but I could see immediately how it could help patients who have difficulty proving to assessors that they have mobility and balance problems.

It could also cut down on doctors’ time when assessing patients, and even help point out where problems might lie.

Elizabetta said they could use the computerized postural platform (see picture) for more efficient “treatment and prevention”.

“It’s fundamental for everybody and above all for sportsmen to have good neuromuscular stabilization, because our nervous system elaborates a series of muscular contractions which must be balanced by other muscles which work in decontraction”.  It had started out as an idea from a dentist, who was worried how lack of balance can affect our bite and our jaw.

So what is a posturometric examination, and what does this involve?

It’s an exam which is done with a posturometric and stabilometric platform (see picture) to find out if we distribute our body weight correctly, and to value the eventual presence of foot, articulation and occlusion problems.

On the platform, I was told to stand on two foot plates.  Elizabetta fiddled with the computer – then I had to stand with my eyes shut – and then stand with my mouth open. All time the machine was producing computerised print-outs.

When these print-outs were shown to me, I was astonished to see that although the measurements were almost the same each time, each one showed that my left leg was bearing 40 kilos – my right leg only 24 kilos.  No wonder I find it difficult to walk straight.

Then, if you look carefully at the picture (above), you can see plumb lines that are there to measure how straight is your spine.

These are used for what Petriolo Spa say  is “a postural check up.  This is given in order to prevent future damage and to recuperate functions through better compensation”.

Diagnostic indications

I wished I had had medical training;  the machine was churning up hundreds of questions in my mind, but I could not find the correct words to use, and probably I would not have understood the answers.  So I bought information back to England, and phoned the British Polio Fellowship – who were very, very interested.  Then spoke to Prof. Guiloff who asked for more information, and finally spoke to Hilary Boone,  of the Polio Survivors’ Network. She has numerous studies of the massive difficulties faced by those who had polio, and find it incredibly difficult to obtain benefits, as they are assessed by people who don’t understand how the disease worked.

So what do the Italians  say the machine can measure?

  • prevention and early diagnosis of disorders and of postural pathologies and of balance disturbances
  • control of induced variation (due to clinical tutors, plantar support, therapies)
  • analysis of correlations (occlusal, etc.)

Therapeutic indications

  • postural re-education
  • correction of position errors
  • re-education of balance disturbances
  • occlusal re-education

As you probably realise, I am quoting from the Italian – but if you are medically minded I am sure you will understand what things mean – especially as Latin is basis for much medical language, and of course Italian.

What’s in it for the British?

I could immediately see that having a computer print-out in one’s hand would be able to show doctors exactly what is the extent of a patient’s problems.  A cursory examination might reveal that a patient makes great efforts to walk as straight as possible, and not much can be assessed by them walking two or three yards, unless the person understand their condition.  But have the weight that each leg is bearing confirmed in black and white – Simples!

  • A disability assessor for the Benefits Office wouldn’t be able to argue with a computer print-out giving factual evidence of a disability
  • Or an athlete might have problems getting back to peak performance, but has difficulty in finding out what is causing this
  • Or someone with neurological problems finds that cursory ‘clinic’ appointments with a junior doctor don’t produce any helpful treatment

But show a doctor, or disability assessor a computer print-out giving the extent that you are unbalanced, and how many kilos each leg supports, and they can’t possibly argue with that.

There are so many possibilities, but at a cost of £40,000 for each machine, I can’t see many NHS hospitals installing this.  I did ask Technogym if there was a machine in Britain  – but apparently not yet.  However, In January the EU is yet again going to discuss cross-border medical treatment, and it might be possible to get the NHS to fund a visit for investigation.  See http://healthspanews.com/eu-citizens-right-to-medical-treatment-in-another-eu-country/

What next?

Remember, I am not medically trained.  I found that the machine seemed to offer incredible possibilities, but to a professional the information might not be any use.  My advice would be to contact Dr.Brocci at Petriolo Medical Spa first, then take it from there.

Two things in its favour:

1.  This is an approved Medical Health Spa, licenced by the Italian Ministry of Health.  These medical spas offer incredible treatments,  often far in advance of what we have in Britain, and have to keep to strict guidelines.

2.  This spa has wonderful resort facilities, sits in the middle of a vast but tranquil forested area, and offers a lovely holiday with very, very good cooking!

Barbara provided excellent interpreting when I met Dr.Brocci, but Elizabetta and most of the staff speak excellent English.

Click on link below to find out more about the spa and its facilities http://healthspanews.com/petriolo-spa-is-2000-years-old-but-offers-latest-high-tech-rehab/

Contact Barbara Scorza for more information about the resort or its medical facilities   B.Scorza@atahotels.it

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Finding a local cancer centre that suits you

Maggie's centre, Ninewells, Dundee, UK, Frank ...
Maggie’s Centre, Dundee  Wikipedia


At first I thought they weren’t for me – I didn’t want to talk to a lot of other patients moaning about their aches and pains.

Then I was curious, and went to a Look Good, Feel Better session, and found these groups aren’t moaners at all – they run lively places that are full of laughter, with the bonus that often – over a cup of coffee – someone mentions something – could be about a new treatment, or just a simple solution to help with a side effect – and you come bouncing home to try it out.

So see list below of centres, and do let me know of others.

There is a lot of useful information I picked just having a chat, that was extremely helpful, not least the fact that speaking to others, I realised that the doctors had tried to make out that I was unique and no-one else reported the side effects I had.  Talking to other patients, I realised that thousands of us have the same problems – don’t listen to doctors!

However, you may need to try out a centre.  The first centre I chose was a bit ‘too much’.  We had to take a two-day foundation course, which consisted of lots of lecturing about our inner chakra and other-wordly things.  After a time I tip-toed out, only to bump in to another person – a doctor who also had breast cancer.  “Oops – I have just been phoned that I am urgently wanted in the surgery”, she explained.  What she really meant was she couldn’t take the intensity either – but out of the original 12 of us, ten stayed the course, so I was in the minority.

However, I soon found other centres, and they don’t demand foundation courses.  In fact they all seemed pretty laid back, and the only thing that seemed obligatory was to have a good laugh.

Although research in the States has proven that those who use a support centre – for a short or long time – on average live longer than those that don’t, the NHS leaves much of the after-care and support to the cancer charities, and expects them to help with our care after we have finished treatment. Don’t know about you, but I was handed a batch of leaflets printed by charities – and that was that.

The charities raise an enormous amount to fund this and other services, and the NHS can sit back knowing someone else is doing the work.

What they do for us

After I had finished my treatment, the Oncology nurse suggested I contact my local cancer centre, a charity. Frankly, the idea horrified me. In the past I had helped raise money for these charities – I didn’t think I was raising it for myself. Eventually I plucked up courage, and found that no-one is judgemental, but everyone wants to help.

Across Britain there are organisations such as Macmillan, Maggies, Paul D’Auria Support Centre, etc. that offer a welcome and help.  They are all slightly different, but at every one it seems obligatory to offer you a cup of tea or coffee the moment you come through the door!  That’s how welcoming they are.

If you haven’t visited a cancer centre – do find your nearest and GO.  Your Clinical Nurse Specialist should be able to give you the address. If you don’t have one, ask PALS or the information centre at the hospital.

There is always someone there to listen and point you in the right direction. At the Macmillan Centre in Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, Russ Hargreaves has an ever-open door and has comfortable chairs to sit in whilst you ask for information. Like other centres, we are given a welcoming environment, but the organisers always have the problem that their funds might dry up, and they have to close.

Recently, the Cancer Resource Centre in Battersea (now the Paul D’Auria Centre) celebrated its 25th Anniversary; which reminds us how long we have depended on these organisations to offer help. Here too, there is always a drink – and some wonderful cakes and biscuits – Honor and Claire and the others always seem to have a plate in their hand offering you something. There is also a large library, comfortable squishy sofas, and a chance to kick off your shoes and chat. And if proof were needed that the Centre does a fantastic job of supporting cancer patients, last year’s AGM was standing-room only, with over 125 present.

Side Effects

In all the libraries I have visited, I have looked up side effects of hormonal drugs. Yes, these are mentioned. But there is no basic information on what products will help us deal with these. So I asked NHS Direct if there is funding available to help improve provide this information. Somehow, I am not holding my breath!


Here you find clear information and face-to-face support.

Visitors get to talk through issues and concerns with Macmillan staff and trained volunteers. The centres hold booklets, leaflets, videos and other sources of information about cancer, and some centres offer other services such as self help and support groups, or wonderful complementary therapies.

For more information contact Cancerline on 0808 808 2020 email cancerline@macmillan.org.uk http://www.macmillan.org.

Mobile Macmillan Cancer Information Centres

These visit high streets, communities and events to bring free, confidential information and support to everyone. You don’t need an appointment, and you’re welcome whether you have a cancer diagnosis, are visiting on behalf of a friend or relative, or are worried about cancer.

On-board Macmillan cancer information specialists provide confidential support and information tailored to your needs.

For information on the Mobile Centre for London and the South East (left), contact Rowena Howell on 020 8222 9043 or email mobileinfounit@macmillan.org.uk

For information on the Mobile Centre for the East Midlands and North East (below) contact Helen Tuvey on 01904 756406 or email emnemobile@macmillan.org.uk

LIST OF CANCER and other support centres

Breast Cancer Haven (Fulham and Hereford) You have to do a two-day Foundation course before you can take advantage of therapies.    http://www.breastcancerhaven.org.uk

Barnet and District Cancer Link Wednesday Drop-ins at Catholic Church of Mary Immaculate, Union Street, Barnet. Phone Eve 020 8446 3104 Weds. 1.30 – 4 pm. They supply physiotherapy, reflexology, manicures, etc. – but expect there is a waiting list!


CANCERactive is an independent charity that aims to help people increase their personal odds of beating cancer. To achieve this they believe in empowering people – to  understand the possible causes and to build effective integrated therapy programmes, using well-researched, Complementary and Alternative therapies not merely Orthodox ones – the best of the best.  Their motto is  Intelligent Information. Independent Voice.


They also have an excellent listing of cancer support centres all over the UK – just click on the county and up comes a list of some of many centres.  www.canceractive.com

CANCERKIN is a unique breast cancer centre, based in North London at the Royal Free Hospital, just off Hampstead Heath. Treat the patient, not just the cancer, has always been their maxim, and meetings there are lively, full of fun, and lots of sensible information.  At one I went to, the hostess was Dr. Doris Lister, who is just the kind of doctor you would love to have – and was full of sensible advice that was practical.   With nearly 20 years’ experience, it’s not surprising  that patients are referred from 35 hospitals within the London region to take advantage of their range of services.

Whether you’ve just been diagnosed with breast cancer and want more information, are undergoing treatment and need some TLC, are caring for someone with breast cancer and feel somewhat helpless, or if you’re concerned that you might be at risk, Cancerkin’s dedicated team is on hand to support you and your family.

Call them on 020 7830 2323 or 2310, www.cancerkin.org.uk or email info@cancerkin.org.uk for more information about publications , research, fundraising activities, courses and, of course, care.


Cancer Resource Centre (now known as Paul Daria Cancer Centre). This is oldest of centres (25 years old) and has Prof. Karol Sikora as its President. Very welcoming and lots going on (see below).

Cherry Lodge Cancer Care Offers a Cancer Information Nurse, Welfare Benefits advice, Home Visiting, Massage, Reflexology, Reiki, |ilates, Qi Gong, Yoga, etc.   and Workshops.  23 Union Street, Barnet, EN5 4HY 020 8441 7000  www.cherrylodgecancercare.org.uk

Chelsea and Westminster Hospital Ground Floor, 369, Fulham Road, Chelsea, London SW10 9NH. 020 8237-2386. http://www.chelwest.nhs.uk Russ Hargreaves runs a small but very welcoming information centre, with a limited amount of therapies. Lots of sensible books and leaflets, and tea and coffees.  And when I need to have medical terms or theories explained to me, Russ does this in incredibly simple, easy-to-understand language.  He deserves a Crystal Award!

Fatigue Management Service, Neil Cliffe Cancer Care Centre. Wythenshawe Hospital, Southmoor Road, Wythenshawe, Manchester M23 9LT Tel: 0161 291 2912

The Haven Centre, Blantyre Health Centre, Victoria Street, Blantyre, G72 0BS, Tel: 01698 727884

Lifestyle Club is held at the Darnton Drop In Centre at Tameside Hospital, Ashton – under-Lyne
The Lifestyle Club was founded at the request of the patients who were interested in making healthy lifestyle choices. We initially started out meeting as a group (aka Weight Watchers) with a view to sharing hints and tips between patients, but this has evolved into one-to-one sessions where clients are able to discuss topics (such as fear of recurrence, body image issues) which they prefer to discuss confidentially. http://www.tamesidehospital.nhs.uk/Pages/OurServicesDarntonDropIn.asp

Lynda Jackson Macmillan Centre, Mount Vernon Hospital.  Drop-in centre for support and information, telephone helpline, Benefits advice, pre-treatment advice, Complementary Therapies, Relaxation Sessions, regular courses and events.   Mount Vernon Hospital, Rickmansworth Road, Northwood, HA6 2RN.  01923-844014  www.ljmc.org

Macmillan They aren’t just for the terminally ill, but have marvellous comforting centres all over Britain with helpful information staff, therapies and treatments, teas and coffees, etc. www.macmillan.org.uk

Macmillan also runs many centres in local hospitals, or privately in members’ homes, etc. If you want to find the nearest to you, go to http://www.macmillan.org.uk/Get_Support/Cancer_support_groups/Search_Results.aspx?c=0

Maggie’s Centres (especially in Scotland) www.maggiescentres.org

Maggie’s Centre, London Charing Cross Hospital, Fulham Palace Road, London W6 8RF 020 7386-1750 http://www.maggiescentres.org Don’t be put off by the extraordinary bright orange building – it DOES have an entrance, but you have to go round to the back and then you fall over it! Once inside, the staff are incredibly welcoming, and there are superb biscuits as well as teas and coffees – plus lovely therapies.


Mulberry Centre This is open every day, with late evenings four times a month.  Offers a range of services including Complementary Therapies, rolling programme of Workshops and information on Welfare Rights and Benefits  ww.themulberrycentre.co.uk WMUH, Twickenham Road, Isleworth, TW7 6AF  020 8321 5438

Northwick Park Macmillan Information Centre As you go in, there is a wide entrance welcoming you to the Macmillan Information Centre, with Helene Buijs and one of her helpful volunteers ready to answer questions.  No-one pounces on you, you can walk around on your own, but pretty soon someone comes up and gives you just the right leaflet, and piece of information you are looking for.  There is a regular session dealing with Benefits advice, which when I was there was giving excellent support and information.   The Centre reminded me of Aladdin’s cave – you just didn’t know what helpful leaflet was going to be found in the well-stocked shelves – but they have an incredible amount of information to offer.    I t says a lot about the centre – I was told that all the volunteers that had been there when the centre opened, are still working, and very happily.  Northwick Park Hospital, Watford Road, Harrow  020 8869 5099  www.nwlh.nhs.uk.

Paul D’Auria Cancer Support Centre As they say on their website, not the easiest spelling to remember – but the centre is warm and very welcoming, situated in Battersea, London. If you can’t visit, there is a very caring telephone Helpline;  they answer emails from all over Britain, and if you live locally but can’t get out, they have a Home Visit service.  Their AGMs are always standing-room only – and food at events is fantastic!   The Paul D’Auria Cancer Support Centre, a registered charity, was the first cancer support group to be set up in London in 1983.  Since then we have developed many innovations in the cancer support field, including helping to pioneer the use of massage for people with cancer.  The Centre has also won two national awards for the quality of its work.  20-22, York Road, Battersea, London SW11 3QS 020 7924-3924 http://www.pauldauriacentre.org.uk

St. Mary’s, Paddington Vicky Harmer runs a ‘fun centre’ with lots going on, and the nice thing is – if you have been treated at a London hospital with no centre, you are welcome to come here. Speakers at their events range from Guide dogs for the blind, to dieticians.  Phone 020 7886-1425

Velindre Cancer Centre, Velindre Road, Whitchurch, Cardiff, CF14 2TL.  Tel:  029 2061 5888


The Ulster Cancer Foundation 40-44 Eglantine Avenue, Belfast, BT9 6DX (tel. no. 028 9066 3281).

Care Services Department with patient information conferences, support group meetings etc.  Counselling life-coaching courses, art therapy, creative writing groups, life stories (reminiscence writing) groups, ‘Beauty for Life’ workshops, a mastectomy and headwear fitting service, a family support service, a freephone cancer helpline (tel. no. 0800 783 3339 Monday – Friday, 9.00 am – 5.00 pm) and a patient advocacy group.  Patients, carers and their families can contact  for more information via helpline or call in to the centre for a chat or to view leaflets and pamphlets.

Macmillan Support and Information Centre, Belfast City Hospital, 77-81 Lisburn Road, Belfast, BT9 7AB (tel. no. 028 90 699 201)

Cancer Lifeline 44 Alliance Avenue, Belfast, BT14 7PJ (tel. no. 028 90 351 999)

·Cancer Choices, 29 Carland Road, Dungannon, Co. Tyrone, BT71 4AA

·Care for Cancer, 10 Prospect Court, Omagh, Co. Tyrone, BT78 1AR, (tel. no. 028 82 246 599)

·LILAC, 3 Barrack Square, Coalisland, Co. Tyrone, BT71 4JG (tel. no. 028 87 746 600)

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