"Lack of support for sufferers of cancer in Cowal and Bute."

About: Dunoon General Hospital / Accident & Emergency Dunoon General Hospital / General Surgery

(as a carer),

Just spoke to my terminally ill Aunt on the phone and she said that (although there are a goodly amount of people with cancer in our little town) they have no groups for sufferers to meet and just talk. I thought NHS mental health care in Paisley was rubbish, and it was, but I have never encountered such abysmal "care" from GPs and at the organisational level as I have since coming to live in Argyll.

Mental health services in Cowal and Bute are an absolute disgrace, I told my (now ex) GP that mental health services in Cowal are appalling and he laughed and said "I know". Well, as someone not suffering from a mental illness, perhaps he could afford to laugh, of course he shouldn't have.... but I think mental health services are usually rubbish wherever you go - but cancer services? Why did no-one ever think to set up groups for cancer sufferers to just sit and talk and vent and cry and share stuff they don't want to offload onto their families? Why, in 2014 does an NHS worker involved in working with cancer sufferers say "I've never thought of that! That’s a good idea" when a dying woman suggests a group might be a good idea?

Who is in charge of deciding which services are available to us in Cowal and why did no one ever think that terminally ill people who live in Cowal deserved to have groups set up for them to get together and talk about their experiences?

We have a wonderful hospice, thank the goddesses, for people whose cancer is terminal and believe me - we had to fight to keep it because the powers that be were going to take it away from us. But what kind of services do we have for people who are still alive in Cowal? My beloved Mum died in the hospice and her dear friend before her and I have for some time supported the hospices in Paisley and the town I live in because I have seen how important they are to people...

I am going to go off now and find out who is responsible for the absence of a social group for cancer sufferers in Cowal because it's a complete disgrace that we don't have one.

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Responses

Response from Viv Hamilton, NHS Highland

picture of Viv Hamilton

Dear Veritas,

Thank you for getting in touch via Patient Opinion. Your feedback on our services is really important to me.

Firstly please accept my condolences on the passing of your Mum. I am glad to hear that your experience of our hospice has been a positive one.

However, I am very sorry that your recent experience of our services has not been an all together good one and I am keen to discuss with you how we can learn from your experience and improve our services further.

Although we have been through some significant redesign of our palliative care services, there remains much to do. Our local group which continues to work to improve palliative care services is Co Chaired by Clinical Services Manager, Lorraine Paterson and local community representative George Allan. We have been able to relocate a palliative care nurse from Ardgowan Hospice who is working with local staff, patients and carers to develop day therapy services and I know that one of the areas she is looking at is establishing appropriate support groups in the area.

I would also welcome the opportunity to discuss your experience of our mental health services with you. I wonder if you would be interested in joining our working group and helping to shape local services?

If you would be agreeable to meeting please contact me by phoning 01369 708345 or by email at viv.hamilton@nhs.net

Kind regards

Viv Hamilton

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Update posted by veritas (a carer)

Viv,

Thank you so much for responding to my impulsive rant on Patient Opinion about the lack of a wee support group for cancer sufferers in Dunoon.

I very much appreciate you taking the time and trouble to respond personally to my concerns and am absolutely delighted that you have asked if I might like to become involved in helping to improve local mental health services.

I have been considering doing this for some time as I genuinely believe that, with my education, skills, and experience of requiring mental health assistance in Cowal, I could make a significant contribution to improving local services for other people. It's something I am very passionate about because essentially, my entire life has been ruined by mental illness and I don't think mental health care has ever been given the attention it deserves and requires by the NHS, which I understand is overburdened but when you think about the extent and consequences of mental illness, versus, say obesity, which, I wonder, is costing the NHS more when untreated?

I would like to add that I have submitted two 100% honest accounts of appalling care (neglect of the "she is self-inflicted" variety and physical abuse which left substantial bruising) which I received on two rare ocassions when I asked the NHS in my area for help and this site has simply and silently refused to publish them. Perhaps, like the NHS Complaints people, they believe I made them up because I'm "crazy"?

I would be very pleased to meet with you, Viv and have emailed you to that effect.

Response from Gina Alexander, Director, Patient Opinion Scotland, Patient Opinion

picture of Gina Alexander

Dear Veritas

Brilliant that you will be getting in touch with Viv - hope that goes well.

Not so brilliant about your experience of using Patient Opinion previously. We publish around 95% of what we receive, but we don't publish everything. If you have time you might take a look at our moderation policy which explains how we work. You can find that here https://www.patientopinion.org.uk/info/moderation

If it doesn't help am happy to explain further if I can. I will email you.

All the best

Gina

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