NHS DCHFT Clinical Reflexology Annual Report  May 2023

In 2014 I founded and subsequently operated the Fortuneswell Clinical Reflexology service for oncology patients at Dorset County Hospital until my retirement in Aug 2022. As lead Complementary Practitioner/Clinical Reflexologist I felt a professional responsibility to voluntarily collect and process data obtained from patient feedback. In this case the data was used to inform annual reports that were distributed to the funder, DCHFT chief executive, DCHFT cancer service managers and staff. The data also supplied important information as to service uptake, patient identified concerns and service performance including the effectiveness of reflexology from the patient perspective. To  ensure patient safety and establish benchmark criteria for a new service I developed a Clinical Reflexology Service Policy 1841 Clinical Guidance /Governance document. Standard Operation document. Clinical Audit number 3825 and Clinical Audit 4923. At the same time conducting annual patient surveys for quality and service development and staff engagement events for staff to experience the beneficial effect of reflexology which proved useful for promotion of the service. These voluntary tasks I saw as necessary to provide a meaningful body of evidence of best practice to support future development of an integrated complementary therapy service within Dorset County Hospital Cancer Service.

The reflexology service was delivered to oncology patients admitted to the Fortuneswell ward and attending cancer treatment at the Fortuneswell Chemotherapy outpatients and the Robert White Centre for Radiotherapy Monday to Friday 5 mornings per week. The data used to inform this and previous (7 years) reports was collected via a combined consent/evaluation form that was handed to patients at each and every reflexology treatment. This form ( adapted from the recognised MYCaW tool) invited patients to identify their concern physical or psychological and to rate their concern on a 1 (low)-10 (high) scale before and again after their reflexology. The data collection period in this report Jan 1st 2022-July 31st 2022 is shorter than normal as sadly the combined consent and evaluation form I developed ceased to be used from August 2022. This report does however include data from a trial Chemotherapy outreach project at Bridport Hospital from Jan-June 2022 (although patient feedback was positive service unable to continue as FCT  funding declined)

The total number of Clinical Reflexology treatments delivered in the above period from four sites is 1228. This is shown as Ward 41 Chemotherapy 732 Radiotherapy 427 Bridport 28 which brings the total number of Clinical Reflexology treatments delivered  2014-2022 = 10,113. I suspect this is one of if not the largest data collection of clinical reflexology treatments delivered in a UK NHS hospital cancer service.

In line with the previous reports more females than males accessed the service. The patient age range remained  18 to over 75.  The greatest number of patients named anxiety/stress as their concern followed by pain, and issues concerning the side effects of chemotherapy that included peripheral neuropathy, swelling, disturbances of the digestive system, sleep, and energy. With fatigue being a common factor. All patients assessed their concern lower after reflexology and again in line with previous reports the greatest number of patients reported a significant drop of between 3-5 points in their concern rating following reflexology. With feeling relaxed being cited as the main therapeutic effect of the reflexology treatment.

The service continues to be charity funded and operates Mon-Fri at 3 sites within DCHFT with 3 qualified self-employed reflexologists with Hon DCHFT contracts.

Interestingly, this report data showed a significant rise in radiotherapy breast cancer patient reported seroma following lumpectomy. The reason for this trend was not identified however, this information was passed to the radiotherapy team including the Macmillan Review Radiographer/Treatment floor Team Lead. In conclusion the author strongly advises re-instatement of the consent/evaluation form for use in the clinical reflexology service so that patient feedback data can be captured and used to support service development. More information and in-depth details of this and all other reports can be found on my website.