Cancer prehabilitation project launch at Gateshead

The launch of the cancer prehabilitation project with cancer prehabilitation project manager, Dawn Hodgson

Cancer prehabilitation team
Cancer prehabilitation team

Meet Dawn, a cancer prehabilitation project manager who has recently launched a 12-month cancer prehabilitation project.

My name is Dawn Hodgson and I started my new role as cancer prehabilitation project manager for Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust in June 2022.

I have worked in the Trust for 19 years as a physiotherapist and am very excited to be taking on this new challenge. Having worked across all areas of the Trust as a specialist palliative care physiotherapist, I have a great understanding of the complex needs and importance of carrying out individualised care and support plans for cancer patients, which is a key area of the NHS long-term plan.

Prehabilitation is part of individualised cancer care plans and should be offered to all cancer patients from diagnosis.

Research suggests the following benefits of prehabilitation:

  • Improves clinical outcomes
  • Reduces length of stay following surgery
  • Enhances recovery following treatments
  • Reduces post treatment complications
  • Improves cardiorespiratory fitness
  • Enhances quality of life

The 12-month project will focus on providing universal information for all cancer patients. This will include advice on a healthy diet, physical activity and mental wellbeing. A pilot group of patients on a colorectal or advanced ovarian cancer pathway will also be offered tailored interventions based on their individual needs.

The project aims:

  1. To improve the quality and safety of cancer services in Gateshead
  2. Engage the workforce in the delivery of prehabilitation
  3. Utilise or adapt existing services to make the best use of resources
  4. Optimise patient’s health and wellbeing before, during and after primary cancer treatment
  5. To develop a prehabilitation service within Gateshead

As a project manager, I have established a working group of key stakeholders and looked at current resources available to pilot the prehabilitation programme. I have really enjoyed networking with people in primary and secondary care and building links within the voluntary sector. Developing a project plan has enabled me to set timescales and ensure milestones in the project are met.

Coming from a clinical background, I do miss the patient contact but have the gratification that this project will provide patients with cancer the information needed to prepare them for treatment. By promoting healthy behaviours in order to maximise their resilience to treatment and improve long-term health.

I have been overwhelmed by the response to the project and am very grateful for all the support I have been given.

This opportunity has enabled me to learn new skills and engage in service development which is not always possible when you have a busy clinical workload. I would encourage nurses or allied health care professionals to step out of their comfort zone if they are looking to develop new skills and enhance their career development.

I am delighted to have started the pilot in November 2022 and I am still very hopeful that it will provide further evidence for the benefits of prehabilitation, with the ultimate goal to ensure that prehabilitation is embedded into all cancer pathways in Gateshead.

Find out more about prehabilitation on their service page.