£18 million funding for cancer support workers

New partnership to help cancer patients. 

A new £18 million partnership will make Scotland the first country in the UK to offer cancer patients guaranteed emotional, practical and financial advice.

The Scottish Government and Macmillan Cancer Support are investing £9 million each to ensure everyone diagnosed with cancer has a dedicated support worker through the Transforming Cancer Care programme.

This investment will mean cancer care teams in hospitals are able to focus solely on the provision of personalised medical care and support.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced details of the programme on a visit to the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre in Glasgow. She said:

“Dealing with the physical and emotional impact of cancer is traumatic enough without having to cope with the stress it places on other aspects of daily life for individuals and their families. 

“This £18 million partnership will make Scotland the first country in the UK where cancer patients will have access to dedicated practical, financial and emotional help.

“The programme will help fulfil the Scottish Government’s ambitions to ensure everyone with cancer is offered a personal care plan and access to the support they need, making it easier for people to continue their personal and professional lives for as long as possible whilst under-going cancer treatment.”

Janice Preston, Head of Macmillan Services in Scotland, said:

“Cancer doesn’t just affect people physically, it can hit every aspect of life. Too often people don’t know where to turn for help.

“Medical professionals do all they can, but they just don’t have the time or knowledge to support people properly with problems like not being able to afford to pay their rent, or find the energy to make themselves meals.

“Macmillan has been testing the effect of offering one-to-one support from diagnosis onwards.

“The impact it has had in Glasgow and other areas in the country has been incredible. We’re delighted to be partnering with the Scottish Government to spread this support across Scotland as quickly as possible.

“Our ambition is to have it available to every cancer patient in Scotland within four years, making Scotland the first place in the UK where everyone with cancer will be guaranteed assessment and tailored care from diagnosis onwards.”

Pamela Harrower, 37, from Dunfermline in Fife, said:

“I was diagnosed with breast cancer in April 2018. I had no symptoms and was the healthiest I had felt in a while so it was a huge shock. My medical team were fantastic and during treatment I was so focused on getting through it that I didn’t have time to think about anything else. However, once treatment finished I felt I needed even more support. Thankfully Macmillan had sent me a letter a couple of weeks previously so I decided to give them a call. 

“My support worker Sharon talked through everything with me which was such a relief. It felt like the first time I had properly talked about it all. She broke down all our needs and addressed each of them, from money worries to fitness and my mental health.

“My husband had to take time off work when I was going through treatment so we were struggling financially but Sharon managed to get us benefits we were entitled to which took off a lot of pressure. Having money worries should be the last thing during the most worrying time of your life. We are truly grateful for Macmillan’s support in one of our worst times, helping us move forward and live again.”


The ambition is to offer support to every cancer patient in the country by 2023, making Scotland the first country in the UK to fulfil its promise on personalised care.

The Transforming Cancer Care programme follows the success of Macmillan funded projects over the past five years, in locations including Glasgow, Dundee and Fife. The programme will offer every newly diagnosed cancer patient in Scotland a support worker who will carry out an assessment to understand their needs, before directing them to expert support from benefits advice to counselling.


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