THE first charity outreach centre of its kind in the country will continue at Worcester's breast unit after a successful pilot.

In March last year the national breast cancer support charity, Breast Cancer Haven, opened an outreach centre at the Worcestershire Royal Hospital as part of a one-year pilot scheme.

It was the first time the charity had made its support services available at an NHS site and has proved so successful it is now being rolled out at other sites.

Following an extensive service evaluation, the centre – which was the first to open on a hospital site – will continue to be offered by the Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust due to overwhelming support from visitors.

Breast Cancer Haven has been offering their supportive therapies just one day a week from the new, £1.8m Worcestershire Breast Unit.

For each patient – as well as an initial consultation with a Breast Cancer Haven breast care nurse who specialises in complementary support – visitors receive up to five free therapies to help relieve the side-effects of breast cancer treatment, including counselling, acupuncture, and nutritional advice.

In its first year – to the end of February 2017 – there have been almost 500 supportive therapy sessions at the centre from a total of 138 new service users.

Key findings from the service evaluation report that he therapies were ‘very helpful’ in alleviating both physical and emotional side effects of breast cancer treatment.

The most frequently accessed therapy after BCH Nurse Assessment (which every Visitor receives) was acupuncture.

Nearly all those surveyed stated that BCH therapies were either ‘very important’ or ‘important’ in helping them to cope with their experience of breast cancer.

Over half stated that they intended to access further support from BCH in Hereford.

Visitors were willing to travel up to 60 minutes to access BCH support services.

Over 92 per cent thought the environment of the centre was excellent. Other words used to describe it were ‘peaceful’, ‘calming’, ‘relaxing’ and ‘welcoming’.

One service user said: “Breast Cancer Haven has been a lifeline to me which is difficult to put into words. I have never felt so cared for and supported."

Pamela Healy, chief executive of Breast Cancer Haven said: “This new partnership marked an important step-change for the charity as it was the first time in our 17-year history that our integrated breast cancer support service became available from an NHS site.

"With the on-going support of the Worcestershire Breast Unit we are committed to continuing the Breast Cancer Haven programme.

"Having the combination of core clinical breast cancer care services and supportive therapies in the one location is a unique model of care in the UK and one which we have recently rolled out in three hospitals across North London."

Consultant breast surgeon, Steven Thrush said: “We are so proud of the service provided at the breast unit and feel Breast Cancer Haven is integral to our ethos caring for the individual."

Chair of the Worcestershire Breast Unit Haven charity, Fiona Charny, added: “This is the first place in the country where it is integral to the NHS”

Breast Cancer Haven is a national charity which provides free, one-to-one, emotional support and supportive therapies for people affected by breast cancer. It currently has four flagship centres in London, Hereford, Wessex (Hampshire) and Leeds, with three outreach centres in North London hospitals.

A fifth centre is due to open in the West Midlands (Solihull) in October.