Introducing a survivorship agenda initiative in the South Tees area

Meet South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is the largest hospital trust in the Tees Valley, with two acute hospitals and services in a number of community hospitals.

The South Tees Trust covers a large geographical area, including urban and rural areas with individual health needs. There are several large areas affected by social deprivation and these areas require specific involvement to ensure engagement and prevent health inequality. Rural areas also have very specific needs.

The acute hospitals comprise the James Cook University Hospital, which offers a range of specialised services and is based in Middlesbrough, and the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton, North Yorkshire, a district general hospital serving a rural population of 122,000 people.

The big idea

Current survivorship services do exist but are very stretched and disjointed and do not best serve the needs of patients.

For example, the current erectile dysfunction service for prostate cancer patients could be reorganised and run in conjunction with other services to prevent patients having to attend hospital for multiple appointments.

Health and wellbeing clinics could also be developed to better serve the needs of patients by being held in the local primary care hospital, reducing significant travel for patients living in one particular rural area.

The new role opens up all the possibility of improvements in these areas and also allows the Trust to scope the unmet needs of men with prostate cancer and begin to deliver more survivorship initiatives and services for the benefit of these patients.

Finding out what works

The project aimed to achieve improved outcomes for men living with and beyond prostate cancer through the implementation of five different activities:

  • Undertaking HNAs with men who have had a recent diagnosis and referring them on to relevant services in the area
  • Providing ongoing support (primarily over the telephone) for men immediately after their discharge from hospital
  • Develop and deliver a six week health and wellbeing programme for men – “Operation Walnut”
  • Offer support and expertise to the support group for partners of men affected by prostate cancer
  • Establish a set of new community drop in clinics available for men with prostate cancer or those managing longer-term conditions associated with prostate cancer.

Lessons learnt

Survivorship can be seen as less important in the eyes of colleagues, and not as important as other services. Why do these men need so much support when other tumour sites don’t get it? Don’t give them too much support as you are raising their expectations about what to expect all the time – these are attitudes that you have to be able to manage and work with to make the interventions a success.

Sustaining “Operation Walnut”, the health and wellbeing programme, is a continuous challenge as you have to balance the input of all health professionals required with their own workload.

Patient recruitment can also be difficult, particularly if you haven’t met the patients before and you are ‘cold calling’ to invite them onto the six week programme.

Parking is difficult at the hospital sites as is the distances that some men and their partners have to travel as we cover a large geographical area.

Some men do not like the idea of joining a group session and are just not prepared to try it.


  • Over 650 beneficiaries of the activities to date with the majority aged 60 and over
  • Approximately 300 care plans completed following Health Needs Assessments (HNA)
  • 17 referrals following HNAs and 49 from the “Operation Walnut” health and wellbeing programme to other services
  • Men have responded positively and have had a good experience of the new services introduced          
  • Men attending the “Operation Walnut” wellbeing programme have given positive feedback on the course and left with an improved understanding of their condition         
  • Partners feel more supported in caring for prostate cancer patients through the work of the support groups and some have been referred to a holistic care centre

Find out more

This project has been funded through our Health and Social Care Professionals Programme, thanks to support from The Movember Foundation.

If you would like to learn more about this project, please contact us.