Cancer patients' champion exports expertise to India

Thursday 23 May 2019

Diana Crawshaw visit to India

A patient from Guy’s and St Thomas’ has been enlisted to help with a major drive to improve the experience of cancer patients in India.

Diana Crawshaw chairs the Patient Reference Group which played a key role in shaping the £160 million Cancer Centre at Guy’s Hospital.

Diana was called in by one of India’s oldest philanthropic organisations, Tata Trusts, who are building around 150 cancer centres across the country to deliver affordable care closer to patients' homes.

Tata Trusts are the charitable arm of the multinational Tata group of companies whose household name brands include Tetley tea and motor manufacturer Jaguar Land Rover.

Diana, from Sydenham in south east London, recently returned from a five day trip to Mumbai after being invited by Tata Trusts executives following their visit to the Cancer Centre at Guy’s last year. She was asked to help set up cancer patient groups in India.

Diana said: “Patient involvement in India is a totally new thing. I was in meetings from 7.30 in the morning until 9.00 at night, including brainstorming sessions, presentations and Q&A sessions.

“I was made to feel really welcome and asked to share my experiences and thoughts which were readily accepted. If the patient feels more involved in their treatment that leads to better well-being and I think that is really beneficial.”

Since Diana’s visit, Tata Trusts' Cancer Care programme has launched India’s first cancer patients’ advisory group in the state of Assam to better understand the experiences and expectations of patients, survivors and carers.

Led by Mrs Krupa Masoji at the Tata Trusts, the patient group have held their first meetings based on the suggestions that Diana has made. She continues to provide advice and feedback on their plans over email.

Professor Arnie Purushotham, honorary consultant surgeon at Guy’s and St Thomas’, said: “We are used to medical knowledge flowing between the UK and India but caring for patients is about more than just medicine. Increasingly we are seeing that involving patients in their care has significant benefits.

“This was a wonderful opportunity for us to share our experiences and together we can help make a real difference in communities across India.”

Professor Purushotham is also medical director to the Tata Trusts Cancer Care Programme and was instrumental in arranging Diana’s visit. 

The Cancer Centre at Guy’s Hospital was designed by patients for patients. They were fully consulted on every important decision and were even involved in the process of choosing the architects.

The Patient Reference Group, chaired by Diana, played a vital role in shaping the cancer centre and continues to represent patients’ views. It was the first in Europe to provide radiotherapy treatment above ground level after patients said this would make a huge difference to them.

Diana explained: “You need to keep everyone together and make sure their voices are heard. Any group of cancer patients will have many different experiences and views. It is important to raise the profile of patients and represent them at important meetings.

“This often takes the form of a clinical lead presenting to the group and asking for our advice and feedback on a particular aspect of the plans, from the layout of the treatment rooms to the way in which patients are greeted in the building.

“The mission is to put patients at the heart of the cancer centre here and in India."

Last updated: March 2022

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