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West Midlands Police Federation

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Sam seeks to improve Force support after breast cancer diagnosis

13 May 2020

An officer who has returned to work after treatment for breast cancer is now working with the Federation and the Force to try to improve the support that is offered to others who find themselves in similar circumstances in the future.

PC Sam Hughes, who is also a Federation workplace representative, began a phased return to duties put in place by the occupational health team in September 2018 and is keen to share what was good in terms of the Force’s response to her illness, but also what was not so good.

“So much of what the Force put in place for me has been very, very good,” says Sam, “But there were still some areas where things could have been done better. When I came back I reached out to Pauline McGuire, the HR manager, to see if I could help shape Force policies.

“My phased return, for example, was really well managed and I got excellent support through Red Arc, the counselling service available to all members of the Federation’s Group Insurance Scheme. The nurse I spoke to at Red Arc was absolutely superb, she was calming, understood what I was going through and was available at any time of the day to listen, understand and offer support.

“But, on the other side of the coin, I found myself scrambling around trying to get information in terms of the various organisations that could offer help and support. It would have been better if there was some kind of ‘tick list’, summing up everything for me. It’s hard to go through various websites and paperwork when you are unwell and focussing on your treatment and getting better.

“I am sure many other officers are the same but you have deductions taken from your pay each month for things you have signed up for but when it came to it I was not really sure what I had access to and what I didn’t.

“I would also like to see a mentor programme put in place so that people can speak to someone who may not have medical training but can be a source of support and encouragement.”

Sam has met with Cliff Tomkinson, the Federation’s equality lead, and the pair are hoping to work with HR and the Force wellbeing team to put in place some of the improvements she has suggested.

But Sam is also keen to talk about her experiences and wants to encourage colleagues not to shy away from speaking to someone who has a cancer diagnosis.

A news feature about Sam’s experiences will appear in the June edition of our Federation magazine.

• Sam is happy to speak to anyone who may be going through similar treatment. She can be contacted on Samantha.hughes@polfed.org

 

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