Dromore cancer patient Samuel Keers was among those to speak at the recent launch in Craigavon of a new acute oncology service.
Northern Ireland is the first part of the UK to establish the new service, with a promise from the Public Health Agency that emergency cancer patients in the province who attend hospital will receive the best treatment.
The service is designed to improve the care of people who need to attend hospital outside their normal care programme because of complications of their illness or its treatment.
Mr Keers, who attended a pilot service in Craigavon prior to it being rolled out across all trusts, said the care he received was second to none.
“I contacted the helpline after having chemotherapy because I felt very unwell and had a high temperature,” he said.
“The team arranged for me to attend the chemotherapy unit, instead of going to an emergency department, where I was seen by a doctor and nurse from the acute oncology team who arranged investigations for me.
“My admission was arranged and I was seen daily until my discharge a few days later.
“When you are receiving chemotherapy, it can be very frightening if you feel unwell, but knowing this service is in place has provided me with great reassurance and confidence to continue my treatment.”
Also speaking at the recent launch, in Craigavon Area Hospital, Health and Social Care Board Chief executive Valerie Watts said: “People with cancer in Northern Ireland receive a planned programme of care, which may include surgery, radiotherapy or chemotherapy, from very skilled and experienced members of staff. This new service will mean that when patients need to attend hospital for some emergency or unplanned management of their cancer they will receive the same high quality care as provided by their cancer consultant.”
Ms Watts added that they wanted to utilise modern technology and provide the much needed information for hospital doctors and nurses.
“As part of that innovative approach, “ she said, “guidelines for the management of patients who require acute oncology care have been developed as a mobile app for smartphones. We are keen for staff to access and use the app.”
Heather Monteverde, Macmillan’s NI head of services, said: “It will provide patients with the right support and the right information and reassure them that they are receiving specialist cancer care.”