independent

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Cancer 'recovery package' urged

Some cancer patients have concerns that they might not have the same member of staff they can speak to about their condition

Cancer patients should be given a "recovery package" to provide emotional and social care support after treatment, the Government has announced.

Patients should receive help to get back to work and a dedicated plan to assist them with their mental and physical needs.

As treatments and diagnoses become more sophisticated, more people are surviving cancer. But research has found that many are struggling to get back to normality.

A quarter of cancer patients nationally feel isolated after treatment, and almost a third (30%) say fears about their cancer spreading are not being addressed, the Department of Health (DoH) found. A similar number also have concerns that they might not have the same member of staff they can speak to about their condition.

Ministers and Macmillan Cancer Support have developed a care planning process to give cancer survivors the best quality of life possible and called on the Government to take "urgent action" to provide the support they need.

Public health minister Anna Soubry said: "In 2010, there were 1.8 million people living with and beyond cancer in England and this is set to rise to 3.4 million people by 2030. This joint document calls on NHS England and local NHS teams to take urgent action and consider our recommendations when they provide cancer services based on their local community's needs.

"Whether it's specialist help to get back to work or being recommended to do a physical activity group, local NHS teams need to consider providing a new range of care services for cancer survivors to tackle their needs and improve their quality of life."

The partnership between the DoH and Macmillan found that by having healthcare professionals work with patients with a support checklist after their treatment, both parties have a better understanding of complications that could arise in the future.

The checklist would also provide patients with information on where to get emotional support and the importance of physical activity and healthy eating on their quality of life.

Ciaran Devane, chief executive of Macmillan Cancer Support, said: "Many cancer patients feel isolated after treatment and are crying out for this type of personalised support. If the NHS does one thing for cancer survivors, it should be to commission this recovery package for its local population. We also need to keep on top of how cancer patients' quality of life is affected long term. To do so, the NHS England's survey of cancer patients' needs after treatment must continue."

Press Association

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