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Lynda Thomas, CEO of Macmillan Cancer Support, visited the award-winning specialist Macmillan speech and language therapy team

Lynda Thomas, Chief Executive of Macmillan Cancer Support, visited the award-winning specialist Macmillan speech and language therapy team working with head and neck cancer patients at Leeds Cancer Centre, part of Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.

Through their work, team members identify patients who are at risk of swallowing difficulties before radiotherapy begins. They help to reduce hospital admissions by offering education, therapy and exercises to patients in order to improve their outcomes and avoid them reaching crisis point. This means patients can stay at home longer, with advice available at the end of the phone.

The team scooped the Macmillan Award for Innovation in Excellence in 2017. They won for designing a reliable and exemplary speech and language therapy oncology service that manages one of the heaviest caseloads in the country.

Lynda went on to talk to members of the Yorkshire Cancer Patient Forum – a group of people who have been directly affected by cancer – patients, carers, friends and family – and those working with or within cancer services. They included members who have experienced specialist services following a diagnosis of head and neck; breast; bowel; testicular; pancreatic and bladder cancer.

Lynda also met with Professor Sean Duffy, who is Clinical Lead with the West Yorkshire and Harrogate Cancer Alliance, to talk about how the progress being made towards the transformation of cancer care, treatment and support across the region.

The Alliance has secured around £14million from the national Cancer Transformation Fund to deliver improvements in early diagnosis, making more cancers curable, and to improve the quality of life for those who are living with and beyond a cancer diagnosis.

During her visit, Lynda also attended the Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust Executive Team, where she met Chief Executive Julian Hartley and Chief Nurse Professor Suzanne Hinchliffe. The Leeds Cancer Centre diagnoses and treats cancer for the people of Leeds and the Yorkshire region, and is one of the largest cancer centres in the UK, providing some of the most up-to-date treatment, care and support for people with cancer.

“It’s been great to spend time in Leeds and to see and hear about the good work that is clearly going on around the delivery of cancer care and support across this region. Macmillan is delighted to be involved,” said Lynda.

“I’m always inspired to meet with people affected by cancer alongside the health and care professionals who support them, as we have so much to learn from each other if we are to deliver the best possible outcomes and experiences – and that’s an ambition we all share.”