We do our bit – when is the NHS going to do theirs?

Icon of covidWere you one of those who recently gave up time and energy helping complete yet another survey, this time on

Impact of Covid-19 on Cancer Care

Google it, and comments from Macmillan, CRUK, etc. flood the page. Read it – if you have time – and of its 36 pages, 24 list  what is wrong and what needs to be done (huh!)

Stating the obvious, it says the severe impact that the reaction to covid has had on the whole cancer environment, resulted in a backlog of treatment that is specific to cancer, cancellation of cancer services and cancer patients losing out – including cancellation of operations, treatments and extending NHS waiting lists as a whole. Yes, we all know this. Why not stop wasting time stating the obvious and get on with it?

Things like “stop bonking – get working”  come to mind.

The Survey goes on to show a much wider range of issues, including the lack of leadership in the sector.  Makes me wonder why, after all that has been aired about cancer in the past decades, this sector still doesn’t have a ‘go to’ guru for the media to quote.  Hancock never seemed to have a grasp of his brief and what was required –  let’s hope Javid has more understanding.  

Reading the report, one wades through pages of verbiage we already knew.   When it says “something needs to be done”  it emphasises that currently NOTHING is being done.  And it’s not only the Dept. Health, Ministers, Politicians and the NHS to blame for lack of action – WE ARE  JUST AS MUCH TO BLAME, when all we do is sign yet another petition, stand on our doorsteps giving ineffectual claps, and let the NHS get away with cancellation after cancellation..

The idea of trading Covid vs. Cancer should be anathema to the British people.  It goes against the core values of the NHS, which is that “We maximise our resources for the benefit of the whole community, and make sure nobody is excluded, discriminated against or left behind.”

Yet ‘excluded’ and ‘left behind’ is what has been happening since the start of the pandemic.  The initial rush to create Nightingale hospitals and ensure that there were enough intensive care beds, produced the perceived view that covid-related deaths were more important than other causes.

In Britain, cancer care and support can depemd on your post code.  I can’t help feeling that Secretaries of State, from Patricia Hewitt onwards, have allowed that to happen so that there is no central evidence to bring them to account.  Divide and Rule perhaps?

Cancer charities are no help;  why do I get the impression they depend on NHS funding, so daren’t rock the boat?   When smaller charities try to step in, they don’t have the clout.

As Chris Lewis of SimPal says “Academic researchers are pursuing the subject, and drug companies are in competition withPhoto of Chris Lewis each other to develop treatments, but this is the same for all illnesses.  Pharma companies did collaborate much more openly in the quest for a covid-19 vaccine, and it is an interesting question whether they might create better treatments for cancer by collaborating in a similar way, but that is a wider issue. So far there has been no single voice representing patients as a whole, and as yet there is no clearly-defined course of action to remedy the situation.

In order to rectify the situation, we need to step back and look at the whole picture.  Detailed instances are evocative, but they cannot be used to set national policy. Furthermore, cancer is not the only serious illness to have been neglected during the pandemic. However, if we deal with cancer it should correct the approach for everyone else. It is not enough just to lobby for change – the Government will only enact change if it is shown how to do so.  At present there are too many voices, in the cancer field and beyond; MPs are overwhelmed and/or ineffectual. Proponents of cancer care need to produce a concentrated and specific set of instructions for the politicians to follow”.

It is not enough just to lobby for change – the Government will only enact change if WE show what is needed. As Chris says, and I totally agree with him,  “at present there are too many voices, in the cancer field and beyond; and MPs are overwhelmed. Proponents of cancer care need to produce a concentrated and specific set of instructions for the politicians to follow. We therefore need to pull together as many as possible of the cancer care proponents, and define what actual changes the Government needs to make.

There are too many petitions organised with wishy-washy aims.  There needs to be a definite demand, and everyone needs to get behind this and hammer the NHS / Government / Dept. Health /MPs until action is taken.  ONE proposal at a time – that everyone can monitor – and no room for evasion etc.

The survey will be used to talk to Government and media with evidence. Not only do we want to say how unacceptable the current situation is, but what we need to do to improve it. The Survey Results are a fixed point of reference that everyone can use as a basis for action.

If you have ONE short DEMAND – write it down in the comments below, and I can promise you I will collate the replies and send them off for ACTION.

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