As London follows the government’s advice to stay at home, protect our NHS and save lives during the ongoing coronavirus (covid-19) crisis, the Macmillan Cancer Information & Support team at St Bartholomew’s Hospital are hard at work supporting frontline services and cancer patients who need their support more than ever.

Cancer support centre manager, Claire Murrell has temporarily volunteered her skills to support families dealing with the virus while other Macmillan professionals within the Trust continue to offer telephone and email support to self-isolating cancer patients.

Laura Bailey, Macmillan Cancer Information Specialist at St Bartholomew’s Hospital said:

“For those who are dealing with a cancer diagnosis on top of the uncertainties covid-19 has presented, life can feel overwhelming and frightening. We want to be there for patients, families and friends who are dealing with the daily challenges. We understand how important it is for us to pull together and feel connected during this difficult time.

“The services we offer include vital emotional support over the phone and financial support such as applying for benefits using the newly established coronavirus support initiatives. We also offer advice on Macmillan grants, hospital grants, information about local community services and answer questions related to cancer and cancer treatment.”

Claire Murrell, Macmillan Cancer Information Specialist says:

“I decided to use the skills I’ve developed over the years as a Macmillan Cancer Information Specialist, supporting people dealing with the impact of a cancer diagnosis, to help families coping with the enormous difficulty of not being able to be with their critically-ill loved ones who are in the Intensive Therapy Unit (ITU) at the hospital”.

Barts Health NHS Trust’s Macmillan Information and Support Services, at St Bartholomew’s, Royal London, Newham and Whipps Cross hospitals are temporarily closed to visitors due to the pandemic. However, in order to continue supporting local people affected by cancer, the centre’s determinedstaff are still available over the phone and email to help them feel listened to, supported and informed.

Sharan Hatch, Macmillan Information and Support Manager at The Royal London Hospital

Sharan Hatch, Macmillan Information and Support Manager at The Royal London and Whipps Cross Hospitals adds:

“Though our doors are temporarily closed we are at the end of a phone and will do all we can for cancer patients being treated across the trust and their carers”.

Michelle Ramrachia, Macmillan Recovery Support Worker from Newham Hospital said:

“I am continuing to work remotely, which means phoning patients at home to check that they are OK as well as conducting my normal holistic needs and Macmillan Grant assessments over the phone.”

Donal Gallagher, Macmillan Partnership Manager, said:

“Being diagnosed with cancer is frightening at any time, but now as people are facing increased uncertainty, Macmillan’s support is needed more than ever before.  In this unprecedented situation, the way the Macmillan Information and Support Service, their colleagues and volunteers have adapted to ensure they are still able to support people is simply extraordinary.

“Comprehensive information and support, including Macmillan’s latest guidance and advice on the impact of coronavirus on cancer care, is also available on our website and the Macmillan Support Line is open seven days a week between 8am-8pm on 0808 808 00 00.

““We are doing everything we can to help address the immediate and unique challenges that having cancer during this pandemic brings but we need the public’s help. As a charity almost entirely funded by public donations we’re asking people to give what they can, so that we can continue to provide vital support to people with cancer now and in the future.  If you’re able to, please donate to our emergency appeal today.”