Lack of Basic Care Leaves Cancer Patients Struggling
A report by Macmillan has highlighted that a number cancer patients are not receiving the care they need. Many forms of cancer leave patients unable to deal with everyday tasks and a significant proportion of them feel that they are being left to struggle alone.
The charity surveyed 1,037 cancer patients and their carers and found that one in seven felt that their condition had deteriorated following a lack of support in attending appointments, collecting prescriptions and other basic care. Macmillan estimates that one in three of the UK’s 1.6 million patients diagnosed with cancer in the last ten years do not get enough help.
“It is heartbreaking that so many people with cancer are not getting the practical support and personal care they desperately need, too often living with constant feelings of fear, anger and isolation as a result,” says Lynda Thomas of Macmillan Cancer Support. “There is a growing recognition that social care is often vital for people living with long-term conditions.”
Thomas points out how the survey has shown that “people with cancer have needs which are far more widespread than we had even realised” and that “sadly the health and social care systems are too often failing to provide basic support.”
“There was no support after I was discharged,” says Lisa Grice from Cheshire, who is 55 and has womb cancer. “I felt as if I was alone in dealing with everything. I was in a wheelchair, unable to wash myself or use the loo properly, and I felt very depressed.”
Reasons For Care Failings
Macmillan says that part of the problem is that doctors and nurses fail to tell patients how to get extra help from the NHS, councils or voluntary organisations. However, it has also been noted that many patients who do seek support from these sources are told that they are not eligible for it.
In one such case, Frank Spurrock, 63, from Kent, was told by his local council that his pension made him ineligible to apply for funding to pay for a carer. Spurrock has a brain tumour, is mostly reliant on a wheelchair and requires aid because his partner works in London and is unable to assist him and help him to leave the house during weekdays.
NHS England said: “We are diagnosing and treating more people with cancer than ever before and as a result, more people than ever are surviving. But with this comes a greater need to provide patients with practical and emotional support outside of the hospital setting, which is why we’re putting an unprecedented focus on better integrating health and social care services across the country.”