The Christie is one of Europe's leading cancer centres and our five year strategy aims to enhance our world-leading status. While we have ambitions to continually grow and improve, our aims will always remain the same - to deliver the highest quality care and treatment with real patient benefits.
We are proud to provide patients with the best standards of care in a world class cancer centre.
I am a newly qualified therapeutic radiographer who was fortunate to train at The Christie. As a student radiographer I had come across a number of patients smelling of cigarette smoke, however, I lacked the confidence to approach them and was unsure of what support I could provide or signpost them to.
As part of the student training programme, I had the opportunity to shadow different healthcare professionals as they went about their work. This inter-professional learning experience is designed to help students understand the different roles within healthcare and to learn about the benefits of collaboration.
During my second year of training, I had the opportunity to shadow Charlotte Finchett, the lead health promotion advisor at The Christie. Charlotte’s role involves supporting patients to make lifestyle changes to improve their treatment and recovery.
In the time I spent working with Charlotte I observed how she provided individualised care and attention to each patient and their families. Working with Charlotte gave me insight into the intervention techniques to empower and engage smokers to reduce and give up smoking.
Charlotte helped me gain the confidence to refer my patients to her and explain to patients how this type of support has helped other patients reduce their smoking or even stop altogether.
As a non-smoker, I had often wondered why some patients continue to smoke after their cancer diagnosis.
It is well established academically that radiotherapy treatment for cancer patients is less efficient for those who continue to smoke tobacco, and that patients who continue to smoke also experience worse side effects from treatment and have a poorer overall quality of life after their treatment is complete.
At the end of my second year of training, the deadline for my dissertation proposal was looming. Having worked with Charlotte I thought it would be interesting to look more closely at why cancer patients continue to smoke. It was a topical issue with the potential to improve patient care. I wanted to ask the question: ‘Are we doing enough to help patients quit smoking?’
I contacted Charlotte in my third year so I could discuss the ideas I had for my dissertation. On the afternoon I met Charlotte she was working with Dr Andrew Sykes at his clinic. For a second time, I witnessed care that was tailored to the individual with options such as relaxation techniques, nicotine replacement and even relapse techniques.
I had the opportunity to discuss with Dr Sykes and Charlotte the common barriers to smoking cessation and the importance of having a key contact to refer patients to for support.
The title of my dissertation was ‘Why do cancer patients continue to smoke and what are the arising issues in delivering smoking intervention: a therapeutic radiographer perspective’.
I looked at the risk factors for continued smoking amongst cancer patients such as cancer type, socio-economic demographics, mental health issues and other factors.
After entering my dissertation into the Imaging and Therapy Practice student competition last summer, I was awarded joint first place and my article was published in Synergy magazine (a key radiotherapy publication). I was also invited to present a poster version of my dissertation at the annual radiotherapy conference in January 2018.
Healthcare professionals have a responsibility to promote good health and wellbeing, whether they are related to treatment side effects or to generally adopting a healthy lifestyle.
Working with Charlotte and studying the issue of smoking cessation has given me the self-belief and enthusiasm as an allied healthcare professional in a hospital environment to work hard to improve patient care, to support patients holistically in making healthier choices and to raise awareness about smoking cessation and other important public health issues.
As a newly qualified radiographer who trained at The Christie, I can proudly say that we have a fantastic smoking cessation referral service to help patients stop smoking.
I am now working on a study with Laura Charlesworth, a senior lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University, and Daniel Hutton, the change manager at Clatterbridge hospital. The study is funded by a College of Radiographers industrial partnership grant and aims to gain an in-depth understanding of the barriers and facilitators to the delivery of smoking cessation interventions within radiotherapy practice.
It was National No Smoking Day on 16 March. If you want to give up smoking please visit www.nhs.uk/smokefree or if you are a patient or carer at The Christie please email Charlotte Finchett for advice and support.