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Innovative Service Pledge programme launches in Northern Ireland

An innovative new programme, the Service Pledge, has launched in Northern Ireland – run by leading research and support charity Breast Cancer Now, it will help deliver improvements for everybody’s experience of breast cancer.

Four Health and Social Care Trusts in Northern Ireland - Belfast, Western, Northern and Southern - have signed up to work alongside the charity to bring together primary and secondary breast cancer patients and healthcare professionals to work collaboratively to improve breast cancer services.

Breast Cancer Now’s Service Pledge is the only breast cancer specific patient involvement and service improvement programme in the UK. Created in 2003 in response to clinicians and patients highlighting a need for breast cancer services to be informed by patient experience, the programme has delivered over 400 improvements for breast cancer patients in the past five years alone.

Following the modification of the Service Pledge model in 2019 to work across both primary and secondary breast cancer care,1 the charity estimates that 7,510 breast cancer patients will have benefitted from experiencing improvements in their care thanks to the programme.2

Since signing up to the initiative - sponsored by Novartis UK Pharmaceuticals Limited – the four Health and Social Care Trusts in Northern Ireland are gathering feedback from breast cancer patients and hospital staff on their experiences. Following this review of current services, improvements will be identified, and healthcare professionals and patients will work together to co-design an action plan to deliver them.

Baroness Delyth Morgan, chief executive at Breast Cancer Now, said:

“We’re delighted to be launching our Service Pledge in Northern Ireland and to be working with Belfast, Western, Northern and Southern Health and Social Care Trusts to achieve the very best standards of care for people with breast cancer.

“By supporting breast cancer patients to share their experiences and what matters most to them about their local service with the hospital, our innovative programme enables everyone to work together and translate feedback into concrete improvements that mean patients get the best care possible.

“I’m confident that the patient-led service improvements we’ll see implemented across these Health and Social Care Trusts will make a huge positive difference for people with a breast cancer diagnosis.”

Health Minister, Robin Swann, said:

“Any diagnosis of cancer is particularly difficult for patients and their loved ones. I am acutely aware of the challenges that we are seeing across cancer services, as well as the wider HSC.  Despite the best efforts of our health and social care staff, many services are currently unable to deliver the care that patients should expect.

“It is essential that we work collaboratively with clinicians, charities and services users to understand the core reason for these challenges, and then implement solutions that will improve patients’ care, not just in the short term, but into the future.

“I want to see cancer services that are resilient, and equitable for everyone in Northern Ireland. The Breast Cancer Now Service Pledge is a key example of how this collaborative approach can help achieve these aims, and I am delighted that HSC Trusts have signed up to be part of this.”


Notes to editors

  2. Breast Cancer Now calculations;

About Breast Cancer Now

If you’re experiencing breast cancer we’re here, whenever you need us. Be it through our support services, trusted breast cancer information or our specialist nurses who you can reach via our free helpline and 24/7 online forum. Backed by dedicated campaigners, we’re fighting for the best possible treatment, services, and care, for anyone affected by breast cancer. And support from our amazing fundraisers helps ensure our life-saving research and life-changing support can happen.

If you’re worried about breast cancer, or have a question about breast health, we’re here to support you every step of the way. Speak to our expert nurses now by calling our free helpline on 0808 800 6000 or visit

About Breast Cancer Now’s Service Pledge

  • The Service Pledge is a programme dedicated to improving breast cancer services, bringing together patients, healthcare professionals and Trusts to work in partnership to design and deliver a concrete action plan of improvements, for everybody’s experience of breast cancer.
  • Breast Cancer Now draws on 20 years’ experience of improving breast cancer services across the country.
  • To date, over 140 breast services across the UK have worked with patients to develop their local Service Pledge, delivering over 400 improvements for primary and secondary breast cancer patients in the past five years.
  • Breast Cancer Now’s Service Pledge was awarded runner up in the 2021 Patient Experience Network National Awards in the ‘Measuring, Acting and Reporting’ category and was highly commended at the Innovate Awards 2023 in the ‘Excellence in Patient and Public Involvement in Transformation and Innovation’ category.
  • Breast Cancer Now’s Service Pledge 2023/2024 has been sponsored by Novartis Pharmaceuticals UK Limited. Novartis Pharmaceuticals UK Limited have not had any control or involvement in this programme.


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