Happy first birthday: North West London cancer patients praise Macmillan Cancer Support & Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust Navigator Service

In April 2015, Macmillan Cancer Support and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust launched an innovative telephone support service for people affected by cancer in North West London.  One year on, patients are heralding the service as a great success.


The Macmillan Navigator Service was set up to build on Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust’s world-class clinical outcomes. It is helping to ensure that cancer patients receiving treatment from the trust feel well supported and can access help, advice and support when they need it.  The team of navigators provide a single point of contact via a dedicated telephone number from the moment someone has a suspected cancer diagnosis, through their treatment and beyond.  They work closely with Cancer Nurse Specialists and other staff in the multidisciplinary team that supports people with cancer.


The service now receives around 1,500 calls per month.  The navigators are available seven days a week to support patients and their relatives. They offer a friendly point of contact for everything from appointment bookings, chasing up test results to accessing welfare benefits and all the small things that can cause stress for people living with and beyond cancer like helping people to find someone a dog walking services when their treatment meant they cannot get out and about.


One patient who has benefitted from the service is Peter Goulding who was treated at Charing Cross Hospital for prostate cancer. He said: “During your cancer treatment it can be a bit of a blur. The Navigator service means you get through to a human being very quickly and you feel they are very supportive and empathetic. They take ownership and it is reassuring to know that they understand your specific needs and can provide you with immediate help”.


Nawal Ahmed, who has been working as a Macmillan Navigator since it opened says the job is really rewarding: “One patient called to change an appointment. I asked if there was anything else I could help with and he told me about some of the other problems he was experiencing.  By the end of the call his voice had completely changed – he kept telling me how pleased he was to have called, that I couldn’t have been more helpful and that I’d made him feel so much better. It gave me a real buzz to know I’d made a difference.”


Tim Jackson Associate Development Manager, who leads the project on behalf of Macmillan cancer support said: “One year on since we launched the Macmillan Navigator Service it is hugely rewarding to hear such positive feedback from the people using it. At Macmillan, we know how a cancer diagnosis can affect everything. That is why we are investing just over £2million in our partnership with Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, working together to improve the experience of cancer patients across North West London.”


The Macmillan Navigator Service was set up in response to patients’ feedback. Patient’s said that they wanted a simple, easy route to get their questions answered and issues resolved.  The team all has past experience of working in the health and care system. They receive training in understanding cancer care; the impact it has on patients’ lives and how best to support people affected by cancer.