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Palliative Care

Community Macmillan Service

The community Macmillan service is part of County Durham and Darlington Community Health Services.  We have Macmillan consultants and doctors, specialist nurses, Macmillan carers, a specialist rehabilitation team and a dedicated team of secretaries, all here to help you, your family or carer. Although we are employed by the NHS, we use the Macmillan name because Macmillan cancer support help us to develop and maintain our services.

How can we help you?

When you or someone close to you is diagnosed with a serious illness, it can sometimes be very difficult - physically, emotionally or practically. Community Macmillan staff specialise in improving the quality of life for patients who have serious illnesses like cancer, or other conditions such as chest, heart and neurological diseases. This type of care is known as palliative care.

We can offer support to patients as well as their carers and family, at any point in the illness. We will ensure that it is individual to patients and is continually assessed. This can be in their home or other settings like care homes.

Who are we and what do we do?

Macmillan administration staff.

When you contact the Macmillan service, one of our administration staff will usually be the first person you speak to. All our secretaries are very experienced and have a wide knowledge of cancer and palliative care which can help them to understand the best way to help you. They will be very happy to help with your query if they can, or will make sure that you can speak to the most appropriate person at the earliest opportunity.

Community Macmillan nurses.

Community Macmillan nurses provide expert palliative care and support for patients. This is complementary to the care provided by other health professionals that we work closely with - for example, your GP or district nurse.  We provide symptom management advice, and can give you, your family and carers time to talk through your thoughts and feelings, and discuss emotional, social and spiritual issues if you need to.

We also provide support and education to other health care professionals who are involved in the care of patients with palliative needs.

Macmillan carers.

Referrals to the Macmillan carers are made by district nurses, with whom we work very closely. Helping patients to stay at home during difficult times, if that is what they want, is very important to us. 

We provide practical, emotional, social and supportive care for patients, their families and carers in the patients’ home, including care homes. This can be at any point in the illness, including end of life.  

Macmillan consultant in palliative care.

Our consultants are specialists in palliative care. They can see patients at home or in community clinics to offer advice on complex pain and symptom management. They also offer advice, information, education and support to other health professionals to ensure patients get the best possible care from those looking after them.

Macmillan GP facilitator.

This is a GP with specialist knowledge of cancer and palliative care, who helps to improve the care of patients with palliative care needs. This can be by working on projects that will improve care, or acting as a resource and providing training and education for health professionals.

Macmillan lead nurse.

The Macmillan lead nurse aims to ensure the highest standard of care is provided for the people of County Durham and Darlington who have cancer and palliative care needs. This can be by providing leadership for nurses, sharing good practice and planning services which will all help to develop high quality care.

Macmillan specialist rehabilitation team.

This team aims to help patients (and their families) to remain as well and as independent as possible within the limits of their illness. We have a dietitian, physiotherapist and a therapy technician, who are all highly skilled and can help with difficulties you might have. Dietitians can help with symptoms like poor appetite, altered taste or swallowing difficulties.  Physiotherapists can help with a variety of symptoms including breathlessness, anxiety, tiredness and restricted mobility.
Patients and families can benefit from early contact with this team which provides useful advice, practical strategies and support. This may be very valuable before and during cancer treatments; and for non cancer patients whose disease is causing ongoing problems.

Service Information

Community Macmillan services are available across County Durham and Darlington.

We have staff based in community hospitals, hospices and other sites in Shotley Bridge, Durham & Chester Le Street, Peterlee, Bishop Auckland and Darlington.

You can access the service through your GP or district nurse, or by telephoning one of our offices:

  • Shotley Bridge -      01207 594607
  • Peterlee -                  0191 586 2426
  • Chester Le Street - 0191 387 6533
  • Bishop Auckland -   01388 607301
  • Darlington -               01325 465564

Our office opening hours are 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday.



'In recent times, I have utilised admissions to Richardson for respite direct from my fracture clinic, even at weekends. I have never worked anywhere with this efficiency before - it is reassuring and invaluable for the patient.'

Patient, Lowson / Starling Wards, Richardson Hospital