Regional Service ensures cancer services for more teenagers and young adults across Northern Ireland

A new service providing age appropriate clinical and psychosocial support to teenagers and young adults (TYA) living with cancer across Northern Ireland was launched today. 

Regional Service ensures cancer services for more teenagers and young adults across Northern Ireland

Today’s announcement will see the expansion of the current Teenage and Young  Adult (TYA) Cancer Service at the Northern Ireland Cancer Centre, Belfast City Hospital, where many young people have been receiving specialist care and support suited to their needs.  

The considerable expansion of the service will now bring an enhanced specialist support network consisting of Cancer Nurse Specialists (CNS) funded by Teenage Cancer Trust, social workers and a young person’s community worker from CLIC Sargent, ward support specialist and a data manager beyond the Cancer Centre at Belfast City Hospital to the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children and the four cancer units across all the main Trusts, allowing more young people across Northern Ireland to avail of the vital service.  

The new Northern Ireland Teenage and Young Adult Cancer Service is supported by 5 local and national charities.  The collaborative approach between the Children’s Cancer Unit Charity, Cancer Fund for Children, CLIC Sargent, Friends of the Cancer Centre and Teenage Cancer Trust is underpinning the regional NI TYA Cancer Service Model.  

Kate Lee, CLIC Sargent Chief Executive, said: “Teenagers and young adults in Northern Ireland deserve to have access to the best possible specialist services to meet their unique needs regardless of where they live.  We have been working to provide emotional and practical support for young cancer patients in Northern Ireland for 17 years. By working together with other partners in the field we have created a service that reaches more young lives affected by cancer is fantastic and will make a difference.“

Darren McKinley, Teenage & Young Adults Project Manager with the Northern Ireland Cancer Network, NICaN welcomed the support of the charities. 

“For many years, young people with cancer have been benefitting from the fantastic support of the TYA service based at the Cancer Centre in Belfast and we have seen the difference this specialist support network has had on young patients and their families. With the support of the local and national charities we have been able to expand the service and widen the reach of this support network, offering a Nursing, Support and Psychosocial outreach model beyond Belfast and across all of Northern Ireland. As a result more teenage and young adults with cancer can now access the best possible outcomes and have access to age appropriate specialist service regardless of where they live or are treated in Northern Ireland.”

The Teenage and Young Adult Project Steering Group was established in 2014 and reported in June 2015, making a series of recommendations which have led to the roll out of a regional service. 

Speaking at today’s event in the Tullyglass Hotel in Ballymena Dr Anthony McCarthy Consultant Paediatric Oncologist in the Royal Belfast Hospital and clinical lead for the steering group said:

“The treatment and care of Teenage and Young Adults with cancer is a distinct specialism in the treatment of cancer. The aim of the regional service is to provide specialist cancer care for teenagers and young adults, to improve cancer treatment outcomes, to reduce mortality rates and to provide support for patients and their families as they go through their cancer journey, and beyond.

“A lot of work has gone into putting appropriate regional structures in place and the clinical staff behind the service are very appreciative of the support of all of the charities which has made this service realisable.”

The TYA regional model is based on establishing and maintaining a nursing support and psychosocial outreach model across Northern Ireland. The regional model is financed entirely by charitable organisations who provide a total of £225,000 per annum. These vital funds support nursing staff, social workers, a young person’s community based worker and a ward support specialist, all of whom are spread across the 5 Health and Social Care Trusts.