Back in June, Silvia Bortoli and Francesca de Munnich from Breast Cancer Now went to find out what a patient workshop is like, as part of the Service Pledge programme. In this blog, they tell us about their experiences and why the Service Pledge is so important.

Tuesday 2 August 2016      Policy and campaigns blog
A group of women at a Service Pledge patient workshop

Participants at one of our patient workshops

About the Service Pledge

The Breast Cancer Now Health Advocacy Team’s mission is that all breast cancer patients receive personalised, high quality treatment and care, and our Service Pledge programme helps us achieve this goal. The Service Pledge programme has been running since 2003 and helps breast cancer services across the country involve patients and staff in reviewing services and implementing patient-centred improvements.

So far, the Service Pledge has helped to improve experiences for over 30,000 patients at more than 80 hospitals across the UK.

Ensuring treatments are highly targeted and personalised and that patients receive the best possible care is also part of our action plan to achieve our 2050 ambition. We believe that if we all act now, by 2050 everyone who develops breast cancer will live.

About the patient workshop

An essential part of the Service Pledge is the patient workshop.

After receiving a patient experience survey, patients from participating hospitals across the country are invited to take part in a patient workshop. The aim of the workshop is to gather greater insight into patients’ experience of treatment and care for breast cancer at their hospital, and to discuss any suggestions they may have for improvements.

What is discussed at the workshop supplements the survey feedback and forms the basis of the hospital’s report, identifying key issues to be prioritised and taken forward.

Silvia’s experience

I joined Breast Cancer Now as Health Advocacy Officer in February 2016. I was really drawn to the work of the team because of the hands-on approach to developing patient-centred services for breast cancer patients and the direct involvement of patients themselves.

These first few months have been focused on getting everything ready to get the Service Pledge up and running, including sending out the patient and staff surveys. This was why I was very much looking forward to going to the patient workshop at Manor Hospital in Walsall to meet the patients and observe their discussions on patient experience. This was a truly eye-opening and humbling experience for me. The patients added personal anecdotes and a ‘human touch’ to the survey data, and also bounced ideas off each other when thinking of what could be changed within the hospital to make patient experience the best it can be.

However, what was most inspiring was how clearly committed they were to making something positive come out of their experience of breast cancer and use the platform the Service Pledge gave them to help improve services for other patients at their hospital.

I’ve always known that this is an amazing project that really makes a difference to breast cancer patients but I left the workshop more motivated than ever. I feel very proud to work with my team to deliver the Service Pledge for Breast Cancer.

Francesca’s experience

As Public Affairs Assistant, my role is to support the development and delivery of parliamentary activities for Breast Cancer Now. Since I started working here four months ago, I have been keen to gain insight into patient involvement and in particular the Service Pledge. Understanding the views and experiences of women and men affected by breast cancer will enable us to influence politicians and decision-makers as effectively as possible, so that we can meet our 2050 ambition.

Attending a patient workshop seemed like the ideal opportunity to find out more, so I was delighted to be able to attend one at Manor Hospital in Walsall. Prior to the visit, I had a fairly good understanding of Breast Cancer Now’s Pledge Programmes. Nevertheless, it was upon attending the workshop that I saw first-hand the vital role these programmes play in giving patients a voice, and through their feedback, enabling them to receive personalised, high quality treatment and care.

I left the patient workshop feeling inspired and better informed about the crucial work that the Service Pledge does, which will help to ensure patient voice is kept at the heart of Breast Cancer Now’s public affairs and parliamentary work.

To learn more about the Service Pledge, visit our pages on how we are improving services.

Author profiles

Silvia Bortoli

Silvia Bortoli 

Silvia is Health Advocacy Officer at Breast Cancer Now.

The Health Advocacy Team work in partnership with patients and their hospital staff to improve patient experience by giving patients a platform to voice what matters most to them and use their experiences to help make improvements for the future.


Francesca deMunnich

Francesca de Munnich

Francesca is Public Affairs Assistant at Breast Cancer Now.

The Public Affairs Team seek to influence Ministers in the Department of Health and work with MPs and other politicians to see more action taken so we can overcome this disease sooner.