Tag Archives: Macmillan Cancer Support

Patient Power beats Ministry

Minister forced to climb down

English: Iain Duncan Smith, British politician...

Iain Duncan Smith,



Ian Duncan Smith, Minister for Work and Pensions, has been forced to give in to campaigneers such as Macmillan.


Now, those undergoing cancer treatment, such as chemotherapy or raqdiuotherapy, will no lomger be expected to look for work during treatment.

Whereas before their benefits were taken away.

What made IDS climb down?

Could it have been public outcry, headed by Charities such as Macmillan?  If so, well done everyone who wrote to their MP. Lobbied etc.  Patient Power really does work!



Following a Government consultation, Work Capability Assessment: Accounting for the effects of cancer treatment, that closed in March, the Department of Work and Pensions has released its formal response,  Mike Hobday, Director of Policy of Macmillan Cancer Support, says:

“We welcome the Government’s announcement that more cancer patients will avoid having to face stressful medical assessments or back to work interviews while experiencing the effects of gruelling treatments.

“Macmillan campaigned vigorously for greater protection for cancer patients who are too sick to work.  We are delighted the Government has listened.

“As the response makes clear there is still work to be done to ensure these commitments become a reality.  We look forward to continuing to work with the Government to implement these important changes.”

Give us work

The ironic thing is that msnycancer survivors would like to work from home during treatmernt.  Type of work that would be pasrticularly suited would be anything needing IT skills.

However, when the NHS set up the  pathetic National Cancer Surviors Initiative http://www.ncsi.org.uk, the NHS said they couldn’t get cancer patients to set it up (even though Macmillan  didn’t support using those cancer survivors with IT experiencet;  it might have ensured the website was more interesting and relevant to what cancer survivors WANT AND   NEED).

Excuse given?  It was showing  ‘discrimination’ to use cancer survivors, but if NHS and Macmillan read the Act, they will see reverse discrimination IS allowed.


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When will NHS recommend exercise?

Year 4~Day 342 +313/365 AND Day 1438: Water Ae...

Water Aerobics Class


‘wonder drug’


which can make all the difference to recovery.”  Accoerding to Susan Morris, general manager for Macmillan in Wales.

She says new research showed that the message was still not being passed on to cancer patients about just how important it is for them to keep active.

“It’s hard to encourage people to think about keeping active during and after gruelling cancer treatment but, increasingly, many patients will need our help to bust the myth that resting up is always the right thing to do, ” said Ms Morris.


Macmillan backing scheme

According to a BBC report, in Hydrotherapy session at a swimming pool,  Patients are encouraged to take more exercise such as hydrotherapy.

Yet Chelsea and Westminster Hospital has just closed their Hydrotherapy pool;  excuse is that pool floor is breaking up, even though it is less than a year since a new lining was installed.  When patients complained at yet another closure, they are being kept in the dark and don’t know when it will re-open.

However, in Wales Cancer patients are being encouraged to take more exercise in a pilot scheme aimed at boosting their quality of life and independence.

Single cancer diagnosis patients in north Wales, Cardiff and Swansea will be assessed by a “physical activity champion” under the year-long scheme.

Macmillan Cancer Support said research showed greater fitness reduces stress, fatigue and clinical dependency.  Exercise could make all the difference to recovery.

The scheme is being trialed by Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board and Velindre NHS Trust.

As Susan Morris Macmillan Cancer Suppor says, “tIt’s hard to encourage people to think about keeping active during and after gruelling cancer treatment but, increasingly, many patients will need our help ”

Among those taking part is Fiona Lamb, 80, of Blackpill in Swansea.  Diagnosed with inoperable ovarian cancer last year, she has been attending hydrotherapy and gym exercise sessions at the Wales National Pool.

“The hydrotherapy programme includes a series of muscle-strengthening exercises and keeps me exercising every Wednesday,” she said.

“I enjoy it as I used to do a lot of swimming and it gives me the chance to meet other people in the same boat and have a good laugh with them.”

Miss Lamb said prior to her diagnosis she had always kept herself fit.

“My cancer is inoperable, although I have been extremely lucky as I’ve had no real pain,” she said.


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Shocking treatment of elderly on NHS

Elderly cancer patients



“under-treated” on NHS


Queen Elizabeth II, left, and , right, are see...

Two OAPs who would be 'downgraded' with NHS treatment


Arrogant administrators make assumptions about the elderly’s ability to cope, a charity has warned.


Some are missing out on medicines and support that would give them the best chance of beating the disease, according to Macmillan Cancer Support.


Figures show older people are less likely to receive surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy than younger people.

Yet in the year when two elderly people are embarking on a gruelling Diamond Jubilee tour, it is time the NHS realised that OAPs today are active and deserve better care.


There is “growing evidence” that many older patients who could benefit from treatment are simply not being offered it, according to Macmillan’s report,

The Age Old Excuse: The under-treatment of older cancer patients.


One year after Breast Cancer Care’s report Improving Outcomes and Experiences for older women with breast cancer

  • Elderly are put in special Geriatric wards with fewer nurses per number of patients.
  • Not only will you find it more difficult to obtain tests for possible cancers, but according to a report in Global Medical News, “Half of Older Cancer Patients Have Unrecognized Medical Problems”

What needs to improve?

Consider using healthcare professionals to deliver face-to-face breast cancer information, as these are a trusted source of information for older women.

Avoid relying on online information sources, as many older people do not use the  Internet.  Although ‘silver surfers’ are an expanding group, generally they don’t become proficient users until after they have been diagnosed, and need to find information.

Imagery used in publications should contain older models.

The design of information and support services should involve consultation with older patients.
Healthcare professionals should identify and address the individual psycho-social needs of older women before and during treatment, and signpost to relevant sources of information and support, including finanial and benefits information, breast prosthesis services and lymphoedema services.  Where possible, ongoing needs should also be assessed during follow-up consultations.


The charity said under-treatment is one of several factors contributing to around 14,000 avoidable cancer deaths among over-75s in the UK each year.


The others include late diagnosis and a higher incidence of cancer among older people.


The report said recommendations on treatment are too often being made on the basis of age, regardless of how fit patients are.


Many patients also do not take up treatment because they do not have enough practical support to help them at home or with transport.


Furthermore, older people are under-represented in clinical trials of new treatments, which means doctors do not have a wealth of evidence on benefits and risks of cancer treatment and impact on quality of life.

As Ciaran Devane, chief executive of Macmillan Cancer Support, says: “Assumptions about someone’s ability to tolerate treatment, quality of life or personal preferences should never be based on their chronological age.”



Currently the NHS channels elderly people into Geriatric Wards, and can mark them down for less-urgent treatment as soon as NHS Receptionists register patients.

First question barked across crowded waiting rooms is DATE OF BIRTH?  Thus automatically identifying anyone over 60.

Hospitals say that this is because data input into the IT system goes by DOB.  Nonsense!  Any data can be used: name, address, etc.  But using DOB makes it easier to shove patients into the ‘give less-attention’ stream.

Data says fewer of the oldest cancer patients (aged over 76) are given the name of a clinical nurse specialist;  as one elderly friend said, “it has taken me three years of fighting before I finally have been given the name of a nurse to contact when I have problems.  Yet all the younger patients who were treated at the same time as me, were given a nurse to help them”.

As The Queen and Prince Philip show, today the elderly lead full and active lives.  Isn’t it time the NHS took this into account, and ensured EVERYONE had access to the most appropriate treatment?

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The Macmillan Elephant reminds us of exercise benefits



Take a good look at the Macmillan Elephant.

This is going to be in the room/hospital/even Parliament constantly from now on.

Whatever happens, no-one dare make a sensible climb-down over the Health Bill.  Egg is around in bucketfuls, and no politician has the courage to pull the plug on probably the most unpopular bill since the Poll Tax.

Yes, the NHS needed to  reform – no-one would deny that.  But one doesn’t send a Lansley breed bull into the china shop of the NHS to make reforms.  One goes about reform gradually.

But being sensible doesn’t make headlines.  And today’s politicians live by media soundbites.

Perhaps this Elephant standing in the corner might remind everyone that it is THEIR money that funds the NHS, and when the service crumbles, their in-put might actually be listened to.

So what’s to be done?

I asked  a very eminent medical journalist for her thoughts.  She knows what’s happening, realises that we must be realistic, but believes that prevention could SAVE money.

“Why isn’t a pass to one’s nearest health club automatically provided with one’s anti-cancer medication?

Why don’t we concentrate on the health part of the National Health Service? Prevention being better than any cure”.
Back-up for her comments is provided in a report by Macmillan Cancer Support. It notes that cancer patients and cancer survivors should exercise at least 2.5 hours a week,i and cites an excerpt from the American College of Sports Medicine consensus statement on exercise guidelines for cancer survivors, which states:

Exercise is safe both during and after most types of cancer treatment… Patients are advised to avoid inactivity and return to normal daily activities as soon as possible after surgery, and during adjuvant cancer treatments.”

Of course people need to be mindful of the level of intensity, and avoid exercises that may stress a surgical incision or repair, but generally speaking the sooner you can get moving after surgery, the better.  Continuing to exercise on a regular basis strengthens the cardiovascular system, stimulates metabolism and is a powerful anti-depressant.

What happens in the private sector?
Private patients can be put on a Cancer Recovery Exercise Programme, if they are willing.  Insurance companies will usually pay for this as an aid to  rapid recovery.  Local Physios at the NHS hospital were so interested they tried to set up a programme, but it was decided they were a general hospital, and there was no joined-up thinking to encourage them to offer the programme for local cancer hospitals.
In the private sector, those with Osteoporosis are often given specialised exercise programmes, which can reverse the disease.  One hospital, when asked if they would provide these simple, inexpensive exercise classes, turned them down.  “But WHEN you get a fracture (not IF) we will be able to look after you on the Orthopaedic ward” (at a cost of around £12,000).
No-one in that hospital had thought how much fractures cost the NHS every year, and how a simple exercise course could save thousands – if not millions.
Your place in the scheme
If you believe that exercise could help, contact your local Macmillan branch and ask them what exercise programmes might be available, or could be set up.
And be prepared to suggest classes yourself:  it does work.  Ask the patients at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital.  They heard the Hydro Pool was going to be closed down, so six of them got together, wrote to CEO, Governors, LINk, etc. and got the pool re-opened.  Took them six months – but they did it.  And every week they wallow in the warm water as they do their exercises, delighted ‘their’ pool is back again.  Incidentally there is space if more want to take advantage of this pool.  Phone 020 3315 5141.
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Exercise – and shameful record of NHS ignoring benefits for cancer patients

Jogging with dog at Carcavelos Beach

Exercise is good for you both Wikipedia

So why won’t the NHS help

by providing this?


David Cameron talks on about obesity – research proves that exercise can help – yet all that happens is expensive advertising campaigns telling us obesity is bad.

When will politicians get real?

Researchers around the world are producing more and more studies on the benefits of exercise, yet NHS does nothing to help by providing suitable classes.  Not everyone can afford a private health club membership.  Not everyone wants to go running in the street, and the local park might not be the safest place.  Yet when cancer patients are now told to go and exercise, hospital gyms are closed to them.  It doesn’t make sense!

Starting off

Boredom was hitting in spades, and sitting around the Cromwell Hospital I had a massive dose – so picked up a leaflet headed Cancer Recovery Exercise Programme.  It would give me something to do, my insurance company was in a benign mood – so I went for it.

And its founder, Matt Hickey, was one of those evangelists whose words made sense.  And his exercise programme helped me get better so much quicker that my doctors were astonished.

Macmillan agrees

Now the charity say that research proves that inactivity risks long term health of 1.6 million cancer survivors, and are calling for exercise to be prescribed.

  • Doctors fail to inform cancer patients about benefits of exercise
  • 1.6 million cancer survivors1 could be at greater risk of serious long term health problems
  • some are at greater risk of recurrence of cancer because they are not physically active enough

Their recent report,  Move More, reveals startling new evidence showing just how important physical activity is to the recovery and long term health of cancer patients. Four key findings in the report are:

  1. breast cancer patients’ risk of recurrence and of dying from the disease can be reduced by up to 40% by doing recommended levels of physical activity
  2. bowel cancer patients’ risk of recurrence and of dying from the disease can be reduced by around 50% by doing significant amounts of physical activity
  3. prostate cancer patients’ risk of dying from the disease can be reduced by up to 30% by doing recommended levels of physical activity
  4. After treatment all cancer patients can reduce their risk of getting side effects of cancer and its treatment by doing recommended levels of physical activity. These include fatigue, depression, osteoporosis and heart disease.

Yet despite strong emerging evidence that being physically active could dramatically improve cancer patients’ recovery and long term health, a survey by Macmillan Cancer Support found that

  • many health professionals are not aware of this
  • the majority are not talking to their patients about it.

Over half (56%) of GPs, practice nurses, oncologists and cancer nurses do not speak to their patients about the possible benefits of physical activity, or, at best, they speak to just a few of them.

Ciaran Devane, Chief Executive of Macmillan Cancer Support said:

“The evidence in our report, Move More, shows just how important physical activity is to the recovery process of cancer. Yet very little attention to its benefits is given by health professionals or by those commissioning health services.  It is essential that physical activity services are available and ‘prescribed’ to all cancer patients.

“Cancer patients would be shocked if they knew just how much of a benefit physical activity could have on their recovery and long term health, in some cases reducing their chances of having to go through the gruelling ordeal of treatment all over again.

What type of exercise is best?

It doesn’t need to be anything too strenuous – what about

  • gardening
  • going for a brisk walk
  • swimming
  • cycling

What happens if you need gentler or more specialised exercise?

Sitting in just about every hospital that treats cancer patients is a large room, full of expensive equipment, but under-utilised:  the Physiotherapy Department’s Gym.

The equipment can help with all kinds of exercise;  this doesn’t have to be ‘gung-ho let’s go for the burn’ type – but using bouncers for gentle up-and-down leg movements can be helpful.  So can using treadmills for gentle strolls – and realising that what is probably more beneficial than setting machines to go faster, is to make them incline more.

Just rolling Swedish balls around, sitting and balancing on them, pushing them up the wall – can loosed tired muscles and get blood activated.

Exercise doesn’t have to be fast and furious – but it needs to be tailored to every patient’s specific needs.  And it needs physios that understand the requirements for individual patients’ needs.

Taking exercise on

Traditionally cancer patients were told to “rest up” after their cancer treatment and to “take it easy”, yet Move More shows that this approach is outdated and could actually put cancer patients at risk.

Jane Maher, Chief Medical Officer of Macmillan Cancer Support and leading clinical oncologist said:

“The advice that I would have previously given to one of my patients would have been to ‘take it easy’. This has now changed significantly because of the recognition that if physical exercise were a drug, it would be hitting the headlines.

“There really needs to be a cultural change, so that health professionals see physical activity as an integral part of cancer after care, not just an optional add-on.”

Jane, 57, from Christchurch, took part in a ‘prescribed’ exercise course at her local hospital, following treatment. She says:

“Before I was diagnosed with breast cancer I didn’t really do much exercise. I felt pretty down and exhausted after my treatment – it really knocked it out of me.

“I was referred to the BACSUP programme9, where I was given 12 weeks free use of the gym and regular meetings with a specially trained fitness instructor. They suggested I go along to a dragon boat racing group for women who’ve had breast cancer. I loved it so much, I’m still taking part.

“I feel like a completely different person. I’m much more confident, am much less tired and feel so much better. Who could have imagined me being so full of life after everything I’ve been through?”

So why can’t we ALL benefit?

Jane was lucky enough to be in a position to get the BACSUP programme, but ordinary patients, if they suggest to their cancer centre that they would like something similar, are met with blank stares, or, even more unforgiveable, “we don’t do that – you’ll have to go privately”.

So all you hospitals with gyms, hang your heads in shame.  You are being dogs-in-the-manger.  You could so easily set up classes for ALL cancer patients – yet you let NHS equipment lie idle and under-utilised until maintenance comes in and hangs a sign ‘out of order’. 

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Exercise proven to help prevent cancer returning, and is latest 'weapon' in fight against disease

Part of a parterre in an English garden. Photo...

Image via Wikipedia

MD Anderson in States

and Macmillan in UK agree

exercise is good post-cancer – from

Gardening to Walking


Depending on which side of the Atlantic you live, chances are you will have heard of one or other of these organisations, and seen their latest press releases extolling exercise as a positive aid to recovery post cancer.

MD Anderson is in Texas, and probably top cancer treatment centre in the world.

Macmillan is a major cancer charity based in Britain.

When both of them agree, listening to what they have to say about cancer is noteworthy – and this month they are telling us that gardening and other exercise is good for post-cancer treatment.


Study highlights benefits of gardening

M.D. Anderson found in a study that time spent gardening once or twice a week can reduce the risk of cancer by 50 percent in lifelong nonsmokers. Moreover, researchers found, the same level of gardening activity by former smokers can reduce cancer risk by as much as 40 percent.

And while researchers said they weren’t exactly sure if gardening reduced the incidence of cancer more than other physical activities, they did find that it was the most commonly shared trait among the study’s participants.

The cancer-prevention benefits of gardening are also echoed by the American Institute of Cancer Research, which said that gardening is a physical activity that not only helps prevent cancer but also contributes to overall health and endurance.

Eating better

An added benefit is that people who garden tend to eat better food – food that is untainted by chemicals and poisons and food that is much tastier than what you’re used to buying in a supermarket.

Along those lines, gardening means exposure to the sun and its known vitamin D-supplying qualities that have been linked to the prevention of some cancers and a wide variety of other illnesses and diseases.

In fact, along the lines of exposure to the sun, scientists now believe that exposure can actually help prevent skin cancer because sunlight exposure helps in the body’s manufacture of vitamins.

Macmillan agrees

Inactivity risks long term health of 1.6 million cancer survivors, but Macmillan have found that in Britain doctors fail to inform cancer patients about benefits of exercise. 

A new report by Macmillan Cancer Support, Move More, reveals startling new evidence showing just how important physical activity is to the recovery and long term health of cancer patients. Four key findings in the report are:

So get digging for Victory – during the War this encouraged us to get out and raise food – today its message is to encourage us all to lead a healthier life-style and conquer cancer.

Avoiding Adverse Effects of Exercise for Cancer Patients
About.com, the US medical website, says

With a few precautions, cancer patients can avoid certain side effects that exercise itself may cause. A review of studies showed that injuries were the usually same as any exercisers would experience.

Tone Down the Intensity: Switch from vigorous-intensity exercise to moderate-intensity or light intensity to avoid increasing nausea, fatigue, dyspnea and immunosuppression. This may mean slower jogging or brisk walking rather than running. Or taking it down another notch to strolling around the block.

Modify Exercise Based on Site of Treatment: After prostate or rectal surgery, a patient will want to avoid sit-down exercise such as riding a bicycle. For breast cancer patients and others who have lymphoedema, avoid strenuous repetitive exercise with the arm or leg that is experiencing the edema, and wear a compression garment.

Fractures: Cancer patients who have bone metastases or osteoporosis should avoid high-impact or contact exercises.

Preventing Falls: If treatment or progression of the cancer leads to dizziness or lack of coordination, the cancer patient should do balance exercises to help maintain or improve function. He or she should also use caution for any exercise that requires coordination. The study mentions treadmill walking as being risky for those with balance problems.

Exercise habits such as brisk walking can help cancer patients maintain their quality of life both during and after cancer treatment. Healthcare providers, family and friends should do all they can to encourage and support cancer patients in being physically active.


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Cancer Networks saved – thanks to Patient Power

Macmillan Cancer Support Logo

Image via Wikipedia

Keep up good work and follow Macmillan’s efforts

Behind the scenes Cameron is not happy with his Health Minister.

According to Dr. Gerada, of the RCGPs, quoted in The Guardian; Cameron is ‘siding’ with Clegg.

However, it can’t be good for the NHS to have a Civil War raging – in front of the public or behind the scenes.  No-one would deny that the NHS needs an overhaul, but sane people would say go ‘softly, softly’.  See what works in one area, before rolling this out across England.

But in the meantime, La La Lansley the over-zealous bull is fighting not only the public, but also his Whitehall colleagues, and the NHS is lurching from one crisis to another.

Good News is  People Power is winning; small victories at first, but signs are they are increasing.

Latest ‘victory’ for common sense has come from Macmillan’s efforts.

Andrea Shufflebotham says, “The Government  threatened to pull funding for all cancer networks. These are networks of cancer clinicians who advise commissioners about cancer services across areas, to try and limit postcode lottery”.

As Andrea says, “when a cancer network works properly this means you don’t get the postcode lottery”.

As someone who was told by her NHS GP “I don’t know anything about cancer”, I can see the practical need for cancer networks.  The mind boggles at GPs trying to commission our cancer services, when they haven’t a clue what they are ordering.

Macmillan was really up in arms about it, because GPs have never commissioned cancer care before, and would be in even more need than previous commissioners.” We’ve been lobbying hard and getting bits of coverage on it and today it was announced in the guardian that they will be kept”.


When they work best

When cancer networks work best they should be invisible to patients. This is because behind the scenes they will be working with hospitals and health professionals to ensure that cancer patients receive

  • the highest possible quality of care
  • well coordinated
  • does not vary from region to region.

Plus they will be working out where services can be further developed to improve patients’ experience.  They are advocates for cancer patients to busy healthcare commissioners for whom cancer is just one of their priorities.

If anything should go wrong in service provision, such as posts being made redundant, a good cancer network will be there to liaise between users, clinicians and commissioners, to make sure high quality services are retained

Cancer networks are extremely important to cancer patients. Without them or a similar mechanism, cancer patients will be left in the lurch. They risk a serious decline in services, leading to a return of the extremes of postcode lottery and in the worst case a significant impact on survival rates.

Cancer patients are already finding that the ‘two week’ wait for tests has been ‘forgotten’;  without the networks these could go back to the bad old days.

Latest gossip from Whitehall says Cameron is by-passing La La Lansley, and consulting with Clegg.  So watch the political bloggs for updates.

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London cancer hospitals get 'Red Card'

Liam Trotter Gets the Red Card

Liam Trotter gets Red Card Flickr

Eight of the ten NHS Trusts that came bottom of a hospital league table are from London – so they have been given a ‘Red Card’.

The table measured patient experience across England, in the latest Patient Experience Survey

It does not cover the medical treatments patients received, such as standards of chemotherapy or surgery.  But if patients are worried about their care, they aren’t going to be in the right frame of mind to take advantage of treatment.

The league measures patients’ experiences while being treated at hospital, for example:

  • if there were enough nurses on duty
  • whether they were given enough support from health and social services when they left hospital
  • whether they were given the right emotional support or told about financial information.

Ciarán Devane, Chief Executive of Macmillan Cancer Support says:

‘Cancer patients are being let down by many Trusts that are failing to give adequate levels of care.

The experiences you have whilst in hospital can have a massive impact on your health and wellbeing, and how well you cope once you leave hospital.

We hope that the Trusts given a ‘red card’ will work with community services and take urgent action to improve the care they offer cancer patients.’

According to the research, breast cancer patients in England have the best patient experience, while sarcoma patients have the poorest.

Trusts in the bottom 10 (from worst to best):

1) Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust

2=) Royal Free Hampstead NHS Trust, 2=) The Whittington Hospital NHS Trust

4) Barts and the London NHS Trust

5=) Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Trust, 5=) The Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust

7) Newham University Hospital NHS Trust

8) Croydon Healthcare NHS Trust (formerly Mayday)

9) Ealing Hospital NHS Trust

10) Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust.

What do you do if ‘caught’ in one of these hospitals?

Macmillan is calling for the Government to put more focus on improving cancer patient experiences and to provide urgent support to the Trusts with the worst results in its league.  However, as a petition elsewhere on this website says,  Breast Care Nurses are being moved to other departments – so first thing is to sign www.breastcancercare.org.uk/keepourbreastcarenurses

Through over 5,000 Macmillan professionals and over 100 information centres in the UK, Macmillan has a presence at all of the hospitals that came bottom in the league and will be working with them to improve patient experience.

So get in touch with the Macmillan Nurses – ASK what you can do to help.  Often it can be just writing or even phoning a Department to ask them not to close down a service.

If we don’t do anything – why should hospitals think they need to ?

Eight out of the top 10 Trusts, including Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust, and Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust are in the North of England.

According to the Dept. Health, there are 12 Trusts which never appear in the bottom 20% of Trusts on any question in the survey, as follows:

•        Airedale
•        Barnsley
•        East Cheshire
•        East Sussex
•        Gateshead
•        Harrogate
•        Northumbria
•        Poole
•        Royal Devon and Exeter
•        Sheffield
•        South Tees

You can view the full report for each of the trusts by scrolling down to the relevant trust on this link: http://www.quality-health.co.uk/cancer-reports

And well done to them!

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Cancer survivors fighting to save benefits

The Citizens Advice Bureau Logo.

Image via Wikipedia

Government Welfare plans will hit over one million

A group of 30 charities has written to the government expressing concern that planned welfare changes could push some people with cancer into poverty.

 The main problem is lack of disability awareness by the people making the decisions.

It was someone working for a polio charity who alerted me to the problems that changes to benefit rules are bringing up, and I realised that these changes will have a massive affect on cancer patients as well.

Yet again, another new ‘initiative’ has official agencies using draconian powers to get needy benefit claimants fighting again for what they are entitled to.  The aim is obviously to weed out those who falsely claim for benefits, but surely there is no need to petrify those whose lives depend on what little benefit they are able to claim?

For many people, they face worrying times whilst they fill out interminable forms, apply – and find their application has been ‘lost’ (generally because some petty official can’t be bothered to look and see where it has gone).     When this happens two ways of getting action are

  1. Say your computer has crashed so you can’t get hold of original material – so they will have to keep on looking
  2. Put the phone down – wait a couple of minutes then phone again.  You usually get a different person, who doesn’t know your application has been ‘lost’ and usually ‘finds’ it

Or you wait and wait for an appointment to discuss yur case with an official – who often callously cancels the appointment at the last minute.  When this happens, a good ploy is to phone and ask if they could give you some explanation, as you are seeing your MP on (mention a date within the week).  It is surprising how many officials suddenly find they have time to see you.

Hilary and others tell me time and time again that this is what happens.  In this age of computers the way claims are handled is a disgrace – but no-one in the Government seems aware of reality – or to care what is happening.


Charities have voiced fears about delays in awarding the benefit which replaces disability living allowance, and over withdrawal of other benefits.

The Department for Work and Pensions explanation for this was – wait for it – it was “protecting those who need the most help”.  They may fool themselves, but for needy patients this is just another  slap in the face.

The charities’ open letter to Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith has been published in the Guardian under

‘Undesirable consequence’
“We are extremely concerned that changes to disability benefits will mean that a significant number of people with cancer will be left without vital financial support at a time when they need it the most.

“We would like to work with you to make sure this government’s welfare reforms do not have the very undesirable consequence of pushing some people with cancer into poverty.”

They told Mr Duncan Smith they welcomed proposals to “simplify a system that is currently confusing and bureaucratic” and to make “the transition from benefits to work easier”.

However, the charities said they were “very concerned” that people with cancer would have to wait six months before they could claim the new personal independence payment (PIP), which replaces the disability living allowance (DLA).

They also said they were worried about plans in the bill to withdraw employment support allowance (ESA) from some cancer patients after a year.

‘Make ends meet

Their letter said: “The majority of people with cancer who are out of work want to return to work.

“It can represent a milestone in their recovery and a return to normality, in addition to the obvious financial benefits.

“We believe that this proposal, rather than creating an incentive to work, will lead to many cancer patients losing their ESA simply because they have not recovered quickly enough.”

The charities told the Work and Pensions Secretary that people with cancer were very worried about how the bill would affect them.

“Living with cancer is expensive and many people rely on benefits to make ends meet,” they said.

Whom next to contact?
The charities signing the letter included Cancer Research UK, Macmillan Cancer Support, Marie Curie Cancer Care and the Teenage Cancer Trust.  If you haven’t already done so, they all have staff who are experts at dealing with benefits applications, and almost certainly will be able to give very, very good and helpful advice.

Contact your local Citizens’ Advice Bureau

Contact your local MP.  If they are an opposition MP, you are better off, because the Opposition party always wants a reason to go for the Government in power.

You could also use phrases from the letter above, or ask why you were being kept waiting – The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said it had accepted the conclusions of a review of the ESA system by Professor Malcolm Harrington.  So throw its words back at it.


A DWP spokesman said: “We are changing the welfare system because in its current state it’s not working. In all our changes we are protecting those who need the most help. ”

  • Changes to the benefits system outlined in the bill include a single universal credit to replace six income-related work-based benefits from 2013.
  • There will also be an annual benefit cap of about £26,000 per family, and those refusing to work face a loss of benefits for up to three years.
  • Prime Minister David Cameron has said the changes would “make work pay for some of the poorest people in our society”.

Another avenue of help

Meanwhile, a report from the think tank Demos suggests that British workers are among the worst protected among 12 developed nations in terms of benefits if they are off work sick.

A measure of the level of protection employees have in the case of ill health from both the state and private sector placed the UK in eighth place, below nations including France, Germany, the Netherlands, Canada and the US.

Demos says that middle earners are more vulnerable to the financial difficulties if they are made unemployed.

Its report says savers and homeowners were being “penalised” by means testing for savings above £16,000 if they were off work ill and is calling for an exemption for the first six months of unemployment to “soften the blow”.
So contact your MEP.

Why your MEP?

Because over 70% of the United Kingdom’s laws are now passed on orders from Brussels.  Therefore, MEPs have a huge amount of power;  I have found this myself when needing clout.  An MEP’s cudgel can work a treat.

Although they are based in Brussels, they will hop on Eurostar or a plane at the drop of a hat, so if you want to meet one you won’t have long to wait.

And because most people in Britain don’t understand, or want to know what MEPs do, not only do they have more time than MPs to help, but they are keen to be seen to work.

And best of luck – let’s hope that something in this article might be the catalyst that gets things working.  I hope so.


Macmillan has another bright idea

Whitehall, London, looking south towards the H...

Image via Wikipedia

Put the fair into welfare

 There is no doubt that the Moles are getting agitated along Whitehall.

Any moment now if you go along there looking for rats that Larry might have left, you could come across a little black snout sniffing the air to see if the feline has gone – it’s a mole popping up.

You can rely on the lovely supportive network that exists in Whitehall, to start getting the knives out and sharpening them ready for back-stabbing, but usually this takes about 18 months before mole noses break out above ground.

But La La Lansley and his cohorts have made themselves so unpopular, that things are happening faster than Chris Hoy in pursuit of a cycling medal.

So now is the time to ACT.  Politicians are desperate for good publicity, and will listen to petitions.

Last week the government announced its plans to shake up the benefits system. But what does this mean for people with cancer?

These changes could force thousands of cancer patients and their families into poverty.  More form filling, changes to the way benefits are paid, etc.  That’s why Macmillan has launched a timely campaign to make sure that cancer patients don’t lose vital benefits, in particular Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Disability Living Allowance (DLA) .

I see no reason why others, worried about the changes in benefits assessments, can’t join in too.  After all, the bigger the number the more Whitehall will listen.

Macmillan are campaigning to put the FAIR into welFARE.

They know that most people with cancer want to work but often can’t because of their condition or treatment. They may need more time and support to return to work after recovery. Whilst they agree that the benefit system is complex and needs to be simplified, working people who are suddenly diagnosed with cancer should not be left unsupported at a time when they need it most.

What can you do?

Ask your MP to speak out against benefit cuts for cancer patients.

The proposed changes, outlined in the Welfare Reform Bill, can only become law if the bill is approved by Parliament.

And that’s where you come in.

Throughout the year, your MP will have the opportunity to debate, amend and, crucially, vote on the bill.
On 9th March the Bill will be debated in Parliament. This will be our first opportunity to persuade the government that people with cancer must get the support they need.

Email your MP now and ask them to speak out against benefit cuts for cancer patients.  Find their contact quickly and easily on www.writetothem.com and just click through.

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