World Health Organisation (part of United Nations) says UK is at bottom of European cancer survival stats (25th out of 27 countries)
And latest reports say 9 out of 10 worst UK cancer hospitals are based in London.
So Macmillan recently launched the London Cancer Community (LCC) at a packed event at London’s City Hall. The event kicked off with the Tenovus Choir giving us inspiring songs, putting the audience of GPs, Nurses – and most importantly, a very large proportion of patients – in an upbeat mood.
There were the usual speeches – including an excellent one from Macmillan’s Engagement and Volunteer Manager, Chris Parker. Going right to the point, speaking with hardly a glance at his notes, he made the audience feel that Macmillan has at last grasped the nettle of poor NHS treatment, and hopefully set up the LCC to improve matters.
Not another ‘London’ group!
There are nine cancer groups set up in London with the aim of improving services and providing what patient need. But the fact that there are so many might show that none of them are doing a very good job – then there is the mainly London-based National Cancer Survivorship Initiative that produced the laughable (for survivors) Holistic Needs Assessment – ‘nuf said.
Where the current groups failed is their use of ‘professional patients’; patients chosen because they will agree the NHS is marvellous – but never question why we lag behind the rest of the world. They point to improved survival figures, not noticing the world has also improved, but manages even better rates.
Current Mood It seems Macmillan is taking on board survivors’ need to be more pro-active, get up and campaign for better care. European staff working in the NHS often say they are surprised at how meekly we accept what we are given, saying their countrymen would be much more demanding!
American patients really get to grips with demanding better care, and will lobby hard if they don’t get it; Europa Donna trains patients from its 44 member nations to be advocates for improving care – so let’s hope the LCC is going to ‘use’ members to lobby for improvements.
It’s no good sitting back and accepting poor standards as norm – Londoners in particular need to demand better care. Kensington and Chelsea’s Healthwatch has even wiped cancer off their agenda, saying it isn’t an important subject and doesn’t need support!
The Elephant in the Room was evident at the launch: recently Macmillan had become reliant on the NHS, but perhaps now realises it has to become more pro-active when we need help with negotiating waiting lists, ‘lost’ appointments, lost notes, etc. Talking to some Macmillan staff, it seems there is a new agenda, and patients may expect more help with these issues – rather than a repetition of the NHS mantra.
Become a LCC member
Anyone wanting to join and give anything from an hour a month upwards to improving cancer services in London, can sign up and email Londoncancercommunity@macmillan.org.uk