Cancer care must be a top priority, says Dearne MP

Michael Dugher MP

Michael Dugher MP

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I recently found out that in Barnsley alone there are currently 6,500 people living with cancer and under the care of Macmillan Cancer Support.

And there is hardly a family in the whole of South Yorkshire – including my own – whose lives have not been touched by cancer. That’s why this month, I was proud to support Macmillan’s “lives depend on it” campaign in order to guarantee that cancer care is a top priority for government.

The Macmillan Cancer Support Information Bus

The Macmillan Cancer Support Information Bus

More can be done to ensure that people with cancer get the right support they need. There is still a long way to go to ensure we are diagnosing it earlier, treating it more effectively and preventing it in the first place.

A recent report by Macmillan (tour bus left) found that cancer survival rates in Britain are amongst the worst in Europe. It is estimated that by the end of the next parliament in 2020, half of us will be diagnosed with cancer at some stage in our lives. One of three of these will die within the first year of diagnosis. This is should be a wake-up call to government that things need to change.

Levels of care in the UK currently lag behind the high standards set in Europe. Despite all the progress that was made in previous years, did you know that under this Government the NHS recently missed the national cancer treatment target for the first time ever?

People are now having to wait longer to start their treatment meaning added anxiety and distress for thousands of families and, in some cases, survival chances reduced.

Another big problem is the level of disparities and inequalities for those accessing treatment, particularly for older people. There shouldn’t be a postcode lottery when it comes to cancer care.

It is unacceptable that in some hospitals patients are not getting the standard of care and support they deserve.

It is also the case that too many people, against their wishes, end their life in hospital. That is why Labour has said it will work towards giving people the right to die at home, with their friends and family around them, with free end-of-life social care as part of that.

Macmillan has a strong presence in South Yorkshire with 113 professionals – including nurses, doctors, outreach workers and support staff – each working hard around the clock to help cancer sufferers and their families.

Macmillan is a brilliant organisation. They are the nurses helping patients through their treatment, the experts on the end of the phone, the campaigners pushing for better cancer care and the fundraisers who make it all possible.

All politicians, no matter what political party, should commit themselves fully to delivering improvements for cancer patients and their families by supporting the vital hard work of charities such as Macmillan. Find out more at www.macmillan.org.uk or call 0808 808 0000.