Gilly's story 

Gilly Angell knows how it feels to have cancer – that’s why we asked her to help us plan how our new cancer centre should run.

 Gina Angell

Gilly Angell spent 11 months as an inpatient at UCLH following diagnosis of acute myeloid leukaemia and a subsequent bone marrow transplant in 2007. In anyone’s book that makes her an expert on how it really feels to be a patient with cancer at UCLH. It’s this expertise that Gilly is bringing along to various user groups set up to ensure that patients are involved in decisions about the Cancer Centre – both in its design and how it will run. “It’s my way of saying thank you for saving my life” she says.

Gilly is a member of the Patient Experience Group and the UCLH Arts Committee. The 17-member Patient Experience Group set up by Macmillan Cancer Support focuses on the supportive care service (information services, therapies etc) and the patient experience whilst the UCLH Arts Committee is responsible for managing the artwork that will feature in the building.

So far, Gilly has been involved in the development of the patient portal and has been on interview panels to choose the artists whose work will appear in the Centre. Key features of the portal - a personal health information screen showing care details, appointments etc using a secure password from a computer anytime, anywhere - have come directly from patients. For example, the screen will have an option to change the font size easily after patients said that chemotherapy can affect eyesight making it difficult to read smaller fonts on a computer screen.

As well as the ‘big projects’ Gilly will be championing the small day-to-day things that make a big difference to the patient experience. “The clinical care at UCLH is fantastic, I wouldn’t be here without it, but having spent so long in hospital I’m aware that it’s the little things that can make such a difference. I’d encourage patients to come forward with their views on the things that might have helped them through their journey that little bit easier. It could be anything – my pet hate, after 11 months of drinking out of them - is the polystyrene cup! By raising this as an issue we can at least start the dialogue about what we could use instead”.