• Why aren’t the right questions being asked about cancer care?

  • Nine members of the APPGC holding certificates pose for a picture in front of a banner.

The All-party Parliamentary Group on Cancer’s conference, Britain Against Cancer, is on Dec 4th 2018.

The Britain Against Cancer confence (BAC) is only six weeks away,  but still no confirmed programme.   Usually, to attract the right audience, a conference organiser will have invited speakers before sending out invitations. If the conference is to make an impact decision-makers will only attend if the speakers are going to  discuss something that is important to delegates.  But, so far there are no known speakers, except for the new APPG Chairman, Nic Dakin, MP.

Being run by the All-Party group, one would imagine this to be an ideal place to bang the drum for better cancer care. However, last year’s Chairman, John Barron, just announced that the cancer strategy wasn’t expected to deliver!  And the audience just took it in their stride, instead of demanding to know why.

Patients know the current situation is dire, so instead of “How well we are doing”, with the usual suspects producing boring, overcrowded Powerpoint presentations that hide reality,  could BAC please tell us the truth, however unpopular this will be with NHS,  cancer czar, cancer alliances etc., and make this year’s BAC a livelier and more MEANINGFUL event.

If you want to see the proposed programme (such as it is) go to  http://www.cvent.com/events/britain-against-cancer-conference-2018/agenda-72274b774a6e4c1b82a676821f60081e.aspx

Surprisingly, organisers, Macmillan, constantly say “Listen to Patients” – yet have only allocated 15 minutes to a patient speaker!

So here’s my conference Programme suggestions: –

  • 0945  Welcome by Nic Dakin, MP
  • 1000  Keynote address:  Andie Burnham, the ex-Minister for Health under Labour.  At the 2014 conference he produced a plan for better cancer care.  Today, what does he see working, what hasn’t worked, what can the audience do about it?
  • 1045   Coffee Break
  • 1115   Going Forward,   Q & A on what would Patients like to see happen  Panel to include
  • Kris Hallenga of CoppaFeel!
  • Chris Lewis of SimPal
  • Leslie Fulcher of Mission-Remission

1230   Lunch and visit Exhibition – Lunch organised by DEFRA to promote healthier eating

1400  Proton Beam Therapy.  10 years on from the announcement at BAC that this was coming, what is reality?                      Brett King

1445  Lord Darzi interviews Minister, Matt Hancock, on what’s wrong with NHS, why is there a Post-Code lottery, what can patients do about getting better care? etc   Q &A

1530  Waiting times – how to improve these by Karol Sikora  author Street-wise patients’ guide

1600  Reception, Networking and visiting Exhibition.

What happened in 2017?

I remember the mass exodus (to go Christmas shopping?) when Jeremy Hunt, the then Minister, got up to speak.  It didn’t take Labour long to issue a press release showing the holes in his plans to invest in more services, increase numbers of doctors, nurses, radiographers etc.,  additional funding, etc. etc.

What his audience knew, and he didn’t seem to, was that it takes years to train these staff:  you can’t produce them overnight.

Patients are realistic.  They know that money is tight, but can also see where it could be saved or spent in better ways.  

Give them a strong voice, backed up by those who understand the realities, not politicians thinking of votes, and we might start to improve our cancer survival ratings in comparison with rest of Europe.  What patients DON’T need is any more futile Powerpoint presentations prepared by Dept. Health Civil Servants.

We need the truth.

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