Scottish cancer patients to have dedicated support worker

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image captionMore than 30,000 people in Scotland are diagnosed with cancer every year

Cancer patients in Scotland are to be given a dedicated support worker who can help provide one-to-one emotional, practical and financial advice.

The £18m scheme aims to guarantee that patients have someone to turn to when they need help.

And it hopes to free up hospital cancer care teams to focus solely on the provision of medical care and support.

It is being funded by the Scottish government and MacMillan Cancer Support.

They hope it will be available to everyone diagnosed with cancer by 2023.

The nationwide Transforming Cancer Care programme follows the success of similar Macmillan-funded projects in areas including Glasgow, Dundee and Fife over the past five years.

It will offer every newly diagnosed cancer patient 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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image captionNicola Sturgeon announced details of the scheme at a cancer centre in Glasgow

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

Ms Sturgeon 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," she said.

"This £18m 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 the impact of its one-to-one support projects had been "incredible".

She added: "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.

"We're delighted to be partnering with the Scottish government to spread this support across Scotland as quickly as possible."