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Trust goes "live" with more helpful ways of giving cancer patients information

Patients newly diagnosed with cancer sometimes feel overwhelmed by the information they are being given about their condition, treatment etc, says Christine Webster, Liverpool Women's Lead Cancer Nurse and Macmillan Clinical Nurse Specialist.

"Some want all the information they can get immediately. Others may want just a little, perhaps at the time of diagnosis and prefer to receive the rest as time goes on. That's why Liverpool Women's Hospital Gynaecological Cancer Team is going "live" this month with a new national project called Information Prescriptions.

"Some who are newly diagnosed will just want to know all about the type of cancer they have and the treatment they will receive for it. Others won't want any information beyond help in learning how to cope and what is available at their hospital or in the community. However, their partners, families and friends may want it in order to support them. For some patients, information about practical considerations around what sort of financial support they can get during their illness will be helpful. Under the new programme, our team will assess each patient and give them the relevant information at the right time to help and support them and those around them."

What does this mean to you as a patient

What is an Information Prescription?

Information Prescription simply means the information that a healthcare professional thinks would be relevant and helpful to you at that point in time. It describes the process they will go through to ensure you receive the best information about your condition, treatment options and support available to you.

What is that process?

Your healthcare professional will discuss your issues and concerns with you. These may be about your diagnosis, your treatment options, the treatment itself, and also things like finances, talking to people about your illness, or holiday insurance. Your healthcare professional will then be able to provide you with information that will help you understand these areas. This is always free of charge. You can take as much or as little information as you want at that time, and read it at your leisure. Then on your next visit to the healthcare professional you can discuss anything you have read that you don’t understand, or discuss other things that you have concerns about.

Who can give me an Information Prescription?

Any healthcare professional can give you information to help you further understand your discussions with them. This may be a nurse, doctor, radiographer, for example. Here at Liverpool Women’s it will usually be the gynaecology specialist nurses. You can look for information yourself at a library or on the internet. The information prescription service on NHS Choices can be used by you at any time.

How will I receive the Information Prescription?

Information can be given in several different ways:

  • You may be given printed information at the time of your appointment
  • You may have that information posted to your home

by Chris Webster