Why was it important for Leukaemia Care to respond?
We welcome this opportunity to create a vision for cancer care over the next 10 years and an opportunity to raise the profile of leukaemia, MPN and MDS patients within the new plan.
The government has developed several plans alongside the NHS over the years to set out priorities for care of all sorts of patients in the NHS. The current plan in England is known as the Long Term Plan. However, there have been challenges with the Long Term Plan. It makes no mention of the specific needs of blood cancer patients and some of its targets cannot directly apply to leukaemia. e.g. it measure progress on early diagnosis by changing the stage people are diagnosed at, but leukaemia cannot be staged. Therefore, this represents a chance to improve on existing plans.
What have we said?
To create our response, we used evidence from our Living with Leukaemia survey, our patient advisory panels and our campaigns, all of which give us a picture of what it’s like to live with a diagnosis of a leukaemia, an MPN or MDS. The key challenges we have been campaigning on for a while include:
- Ensuring more patients are diagnosed earlier, as earlier diagnosis is linked to better survival for patients
- Better access to clinical nurse specialists for all leukaemia patients, as leukaemia patients were less likely to report access to this support than those with solid tumour cancers
- Better recognition of the need to support people who are on active monitoring or Watch and Wait. Current planning for cancer care focuses heavily on those immediately pre treatment, during treatment and immediately after, leaving many leukaemia patients without support.
We raised all these points within our response to the new cancer plan.
How did the wider cancer community respond?
We also joined with others to respond about issues that are common to all or many cancer types. This includes the One Cancer Voice response, a group of many cancer charities headed by Cancer Research UK. The One Cancer Voice response outlined the need for more investment in staff in particular.
We also participated in the response from the Blood Cancer Alliance, highlighting the challenges that are common to all patients diagnosed with blood cancers.
Are there plans for cancer care in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland too?
As health is a devolved issue, the 10 year cancer plan will only cover the NHS in England.
Northern Ireland have recently published a plan for cancer care, which you can read here.
Wales do not have a comprehensive strategy for cancer care, something we would like to see change.
We are expecting a consultation to start shortly on cancer care in Scotland, as part of planning for recovery of the NHS after impact of severe waves of the COVID pandemic. We will report on our response to this in due course.
To find out more about the 10 year cancer plan or any of our other policy and campaigning activities, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To get involved in our latest campaign, Left to #WatchWaitWorry, please visit our camping webpage here.