Digital health post pandemic: turning quick fixes into long-term improvements
Caroline Tweedie, Specialist Breast Care Nurse (Caroline.Tweedie@nhs.net), Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust, winner of the Silver Award in the Oncology Nurse of the Year category of the BJN Awards 2023
The pandemic posed many challenges to cancer services at Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust (GHFT) and the suspension of these support structures exacerbated the feelings of loneliness and isolation for those experiencing cancer. It was during this time that I was seconded to the role of Macmillan Personalised Care Project Lead, and recognised that we had an unparalleled opportunity to innovate and use digital technology to ‘keep patients connected’, extending our cancer support offering via an online platform.
The aim was to improve access to health and wellbeing services during the pandemic, to ensure that patients had appropriate and timely support. The objective was to create an accessible digital programme of initiatives to offer people affected by cancer a menu of personalised support.
To maximise digital inclusion, we applied for a grant and were awarded sufficient funds to support an IT helpline. This allowed us, in collaboration with patients, clinicians, cancer clinical nurse specialists (CCNSs) and local charitable bodies, to develop a range of videos, podcasts and virtual patient workshops.
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