It appears that surgery for head and neck cancer in the former North Trent region will be carried at one centre instead of two within the next few months. Chesterfield Royal will no longer be the second centre for this area, instead all patients will have surgery carried out at the Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield.
Head and neck tumours are amongst the rarer cancers. The multiplicity of sites and the complications that this presents means this change is inevitable and welcome.
Two factors need to be taken seriously in managing this change. There will be a small % of patients who refuse treatment in a distant specialist centre, who need consideration. It is also essential that ancillary services such as speech and language therapy are not downgraded in the localities served by the specialist surgical centre.
In the past couple of years, HNChelp has attempted to support laryngectomees beyond its original catchment area of North Derbyshire. This follows the closure of groups close to us such as in Mansfield. We have members in both Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire.
It is a welcome development that a new group is being launched in Lincolnshire this month. Ray Mountain, Chair of HNChelp, and Malcolm Babb, as NALC President, will be attending the first meeting on March 13. HNChelp will aim to provide any support it can to ensure this new group is successful.
The National Association of Laryngectomee Clubs (NALC) is in the second year of a planned 3 year phasing out of funding from Macmillan. The funds raised so far by NALC have exceeded expectations but a significant increase will be needed this year as the need to cover core costs such as salaries kicks in. NALC has moved to much cheaper premises than were funded by Macmillan but cutting expenses will not be enough.
HNChelp made a big contribution by devising the Ribbon Project, and this continues to bring in significant amounts from many clubs. Hopefully other clubs will follow our lead with the Lavender Coffee Morning that we have planned for May this year and will adapt this event to their own circumstances.