Sean DuffyProf. Sean Duffy, you seem a nice enough bloke, 

As you are the holder of the grand title of National Clinical Director for Cancer, I am writing to you at sean.duffy3@nhs.net to ask you to help us struggling to make a life for ourselves after cancer.

Because it seems to me that NHS cancer services are on an expensive, unproductive merry-go-round, chasing their tails, pontificating at pompous ‘you pat my back…’ conferences, and do nothing except extend delivery times for grandiose schemes which provide nothing for us.

When working it was easy to find out which hospital in Europe was best at dealing with post-cancer problems;  I could then self-refer as there is no problem there – we are deemed to be intelligent enough to take charge of our health.
In Britain, we are treated as brainless and incapable of organising our care;  we wait weeks to see our GP, then often they don’t understand our complex needs (why should they? – they are GENERAL specilists).  But I have to waste my time explaining what I need.  The only way round this is to ‘go private’, and many can’t afford that.
We know Britain has worst European survival rates post-cancer, and I suspect one reason could be because it is so difficult to see the right specialist in a timely fashion.
When you stand up to address the next cancer conference, could you suggest that instead of announcing more ‘initiatives’, it would be helpful if cancer patients were allowed to copy Europeans and self-refer?
Patients could still go via their GP, but for those of us who know what we need, it would be incredibly helpful to be able go direct. Yesterday, I had gone privately to see a specialist about a complex heart problem caused by a cancer drug side effect.  It took me 5 minutes phoning the speciaist’s secretary to arrange an appointment ina few days to suit me. Once there, In 45 minutes I had an in-depth explanation of worrying symptoms, an Ultrasound AND an ECG.  And arrived home to find an NHS appointment letter giving me a date next February.
Thanks to a tax refund which paid for the private appointment, worrying symptoms DON’T mean more heart problems – just a slight tweak in medication.  Phew!   No wonder so many of us are on anti-depressants, with concerns hanging over us.  Treat us like grown-ups and let us self-refer.  After all, that’s what I did.  

 

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