A MAJOR grant from NHS Charities Together is enabling the Stars Appeal to fund projects helping local people with cancer and to support staff at Salisbury District Hospital.

The funding, totalling £88,000, is for two separate projects that are providing support for cancer patients and hospital staff.

Cancer patients are benefitting from an enhanced prehabilitation and rehabilitation service which supports their physical and mental wellbeing before or after their treatment or surgery. The grant is funding a 12-session pass for a local leisure centre, which enables patients to continue the fitness activities they have started with the Hospital’s Cancer Therapy team.

Consultant Haematologist and Stars Appeal Hospital Ambassador, Dr Effie Grand, said: “The prehabilitation and rehabilitation service is vital for patients. It is not something every hospital does and thanks to the Stars Appeal and this grant from NHS Charities Together we can offer our patients even more support.

"It makes a huge difference not just to their mental wellbeing during a very stressful time, but also their physical recovery from operations, chemotherapy and other cancer treatments. We’re so grateful to NHS Charities Together for this generous grant, which will help us do so much for local cancer patients.”

Salisbury Journal: Charles McGrath with leisure centre pass Charles McGrath with leisure centre pass (Image: Spencer Mulholland)

Charles McGrath, who is in remission after receiving intensive chemotherapy for acute myeloid leukaemia, has welcomed the initiative which will help his ongoing recovery.

He said: "Going to the gym and staying active has helped me recover physically and mentally from intensive chemotherapy and a five-week spell in the Intensive Care Unit.

"That's why I'm delighted with the introduction of this 12-session fitness pass, which will ensure I can keep as physically fit as possible and will be vital if I need any more treatment.”

The grant has also funded the Stars Appeal staff counselling service for a further year to continue supporting Hospital staff. The service employs two dedicated staff counsellors who provide 100 counselling sessions each month.

Stars Appeal Staff Counsellor Pamela Kirkham said: “To know we have secured funding for a further year from NHS Charities Together is wonderful.

“Taking care of our own mental health is essential in order to continue providing high quality care for the local community. It is known that early intervention reduces the risk of time away from work, and this service offers prompt and easy access for staff to receive support during difficult times.

"It is a privilege to be able to offer this extremely valuable service to the staff at Salisbury Hospital and this funding will enable myself and my team to continue to do so.”

Dave Cates, of the Stars Appeal, added: “We’re so proud to be a member of NHS Charities Together and to have their support. This is one of a number of grants they have provided to us over recent years which are making a big difference to local patients, families and hospital staff.”