History of HCCN
The Hunts Community Cancer Network is an innovative programme at the vanguard of cancer care, delivering better support to cancer patients closer to home, whilst reducing costs to the NHS.
The ‘Huntingdon model’ was originally part of a 2-year pilot in 2012 funded by NHS East Of England and has led the way in the region, with other commissioners looking to adopt this model of care. The programme was one of 7 pilot schemes covering East Anglia – and was the only one deemed a success gaining ongoing support. Later renamed HCCN, in May 2013 the service began serving 9 GP surgeries.
The nursing team of a highly skilled community cancer nurse specialist and support workers – Gini Melesi, Mandy Robinson and Cheryl Goodwin – provided clinical treatments at home (where clinically appropriate), early assessment of emergency symptoms in liaison with Hinchingbrooke hospital’s acute teams, access to information and education, help and advice on managing symptoms, and importantly helping patients develop the skills to maintain their own health and independence.
The University of East Anglia evaluated the pilot in 2014 and found a 1:5.9 cost return – meaning for every £ spent, almost £6 were saved. Moving care so that people can be treated in the community rather than in hospital has also improved patient experience. The Transforming Cancer Care in the Community programme won the ‘Living with and beyond cancer’ category of the Quality in Cancer Oncology Awards in December 2014. Gini Melesi, RGN, left her role at Hinchingbrooke in 2016 and is now Head of Transformation Programmes, East of England Cancer Alliance – South, within NHS England & NHS Improvement.
The current HCCN nursing team now led by Karen Moseley takes referrals from 23 GP surgeries and comprises a team of 9 community nurses including cancer practitioners, support workers, and a patient liaison and admin assistant.
HCCN the charity was created to enable the aims and long term aspirations of this vanguard local service to develop and flourish. It was set up by some of the first patients to be cared for by the nursing team and was registered as a charity in August 2015. The charity provides a host of activities and support that it is not possible to fund through the NHS. HCCN the charity is run entirely by volunteers.
Founder of the charity, Susan Moore, died in September 2020. Susan was the key driver of the charity’s mission. She had the vision to create a cancer charity that provides an holistic approach to managing a diagnosis of cancer. She worked tirelessly to improve the wellbeing of cancer patients across Huntingdonshire. She wanted people to take control for themselves – she was passionate about giving them the information and tools to remain in control of their diagnosis and not be dictated to.
Charity provided services can be accessed for free by anyone over the age of 18 affected by any cancer, either directly or indirectly, across the Huntingdonshire region. HCCN’s trustees identify from research the evidenced based resources that the NHS fully advocates but cannot resource, to support the health and well-being of cancer patients – including emotional support, exercise, nutrition, and education. Each activity also provides space to share concerns and worries, to gain help and to learn to laugh again. There are art classes, colour and make up programmes, reflexology sessions, relaxation classes, yoga classes and guided exercise. A small number of skilled counsellors – individual, family and child focused – are also funded. The charity stages two educational conferences each year, designed to empower people with appropriate information in the world of cancer. The aim is to keep patients and their families up to date with information on cancer research, knowledge and care, emotional well-being, diet and exercise – delivered by experts in their fields. The charity has also funded specialist training and equipment for the nursing team.
HCCN prides itself on being local – deploying locally raised funds to help local people. Everyone involved in running the charity volunteers their time freely. You can watch a recording of a conversation between Gini Melesi and Jan Davis, HCCN trustee, reflecting on HCCN’s origins.
Hear the two founders, Susan and Gini, speaking about their involvement with HCCN on BBC Cambs Radio back in late 2016.