The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

Leeds Children’s Hospital designated ‘Centre of Excellence in Supportive Cancer Care’

3 December 2021

The Paediatric Haematology and Oncology Service at Leeds Children’s Hospital has been designated as a ‘centre of excellence in supportive care’ by the Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer (MASCC).

Leeds Children’s Hospital is the first Children’s Hospital in the world to be awarded this status and now joins other leading services around the globe to receive this designation including the Gustave Roussy Institute in Paris, the Institut Jules Bordet in Brussels and the Levine Cancer Institute, USA.

MASCC is an international multidisciplinary organisation dedicated to research and education in all aspects of supportive care for people with cancer. The certification program aims to promote and recognise oncology centres around the world that demonstrate best practices in supportive cancer care, by successfully integrating oncology and supportive care, upholding high standards, and maintaining comprehensive supportive care services.

‘Supportive care’ refers to all the elements of cancer care which are not directly combatting the cancer itself such as the management of infections, prevention of nausea and vomiting, nutrition, physiotherapy, physiological, emotional and social support - all important elements of a patients cancer care.

Leeds Children’s Hospital is the largest children’s cancer centre in the north east of England, treating patients from across Yorkshire and further afield. The service at Leeds Children’s Hospital has been at the forefront of practice and international research in supportive care. Local children’s cancer charity Candlelighters funded the research, which was led by Dr Bob Phillips and Dr Jess Morgan. During the COVID pandemic, the management of infectious complications of treatments halved the duration of hospital care. The children’s oncology nursing team were recently finalists in the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Awards with their innovative approach to the home delivery of chemotherapy for children in Leeds.

Dr Bob Phillips - Consultant Oncologist:

‘We work very hard to promote a family-centred, personalised and integrated approach to childhood cancer care.

We already know survival rates in Yorkshire for children with cancer are among the best in the world. This new recognition from MASCC shows that at Leeds we are not solely focussed on the treatment – we’re also making the process of living with and beyond cancer the best it can be with our team providing all aspects of research and care in one centre.

We hope that through our ‘centre of excellence’ status we will attract even more people to collaborate in research with us and join us in practice, leading to even greater developments in patient care’

Dr Colin Holton - Clinical Director at Leeds Children’s Hospital said:

‘On behalf of Leeds Children’s Hospital, we’re so very proud to be the first designated Children’s Hospital worldwide to achieve this status. It highlights how collaboratively the different specialities within our Haematology and Oncology team work to deliver the best outcomes for patients. This is a further example of excellence in clinical care at Leeds as we move towards the next exciting phase of building a new Children’s hospital over the next few years.’

Ten year old Hasan was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) in 2016 and continues to receive treatment at Leeds Children’s Hospital. Hasan’s mother Nisha has seen first-hand the impact of the supportive care as part of Hasan’s treatment:

‘I could go on forever about the care received from Leeds Children’s Hospital as everyone is amazing. It’s like being part of a big family. Hasan has said, “It’s like being on holiday on ward 31”. I think this just summarises everything.

‘Physiotherapists were a great help. They came to visit Hasan every day and would spend time doing breathing exercises with him to help his lungs get stronger. There were times when Hasan didn’t feel well or generally could not be bothered as he knew doing these exercises made him cough sometimes. The physiotherapists didn’t give up and made these boring exercises fun by playing games and setting challenges.

‘There have been times when Hasan has lost his appetite and didn’t want to eat or was unable to due to a sore mouth with side effects of chemo. Dieticians have been a great help in supporting us through this. They have suggested different milkshakes and allowed Hasan to try a range to see which one he likes best.’

The Paediatric Haematology and Oncology Service is supported by local children’s cancer charity Candlelighters in a variety of ways and this additional support has played a significant role in the MASCC designation. Candlelighters’ support includes funding additional roles such as play leaders, social workers, a speech therapist, family support workers and a dinner lady role.

The strong relationship between the hospital and Candlelighters is an excellent example of how Leeds Children’s Hospital works positively with charities to help provide the highest level of care for children and give them the best environment it can to compliment the treatment they receive and increase the chances of positive outcomes.