Meet the team…. Sheron Robson, Programme Manager

I’m Sheron and I’m a programme manager at the Northern Cancer Alliance. I’ve been working at the Alliance for just over five years now and have a varied background working in travel initially, then moving into HIV prevention in the voluntary sector, operational delivery of sexual health services in a provider trust, before moving into public health and developing my focus on Cancer.

I am passionate about health inequalities and making sure that in the North East and North Cumbria we get the best deal available for our patients and make sure the services that are commissioned and delivered here are of the highest quality they can be.

In our team I lead on projects that aim to diagnose cancers earlier, so that people have more options of the treatments available to them and better outcomes from their cancer. Key to this work is ensuring that everyone takes up the offer of the cancer screening programmes that are available.

I also coordinate the work we do on addressing health inequalities, making sure that people have equitable access to cancer services, so that if if English isn’t your first language, or if you have a physical or learning disability, or even if you just cant afford the bus fare to attend for your treatment sessions that the cancer services should be accessible to you.

I also push forward our work on innovation in cancer pathways – some of this is putting into operation locally, new technologies that are becoming available nationally for example mini cameras inside a capsule that when swallowed, can film your colon and look for early signs of cancer, saving someone from having an endoscopy. We also support local clinicians in looking for new solutions to problems or bottlenecks they identify in their pathway, working in partnership with our local Academic Health Science Network.

All this work is varied and interesting, but it is really the health inequalities work of which I am most proud. We know that many of our marginalised or disadvantaged communities will face significant barriers to accessing health services and from my public health training I know that the people who need the most help, are often least able to advocate for the support they need (inverse care law) so I try to ensure that in every project we undertake as an Alliance that we consider health inequalities and access as an integral part of the workplan.

This work has been recognised nationally too with an HSJ award for our work on lung cancer in disadvantaged communities and a PEN award for the work of our cancer awareness staff who work into communities affected by health inequality to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of cancer and support communities to have good access into primary care to check out their concerns.