Heather Monteverde, Head of Services for Macmillan Cancer Support in Northern Ireland
Welcome to our new blog about Macmillan Cancer Support’s work in Northern Ireland. We hope you like it and will follow the posts from Macmillan nurses, dietitians, physios, GP and benefits advisers – not to mention our supporters and volunteers, many of whom have been affected by cancer.
2016 is an important year for us because voters here go to the polls on May 5th to elect a new Northern Ireland Assembly. The future of local cancer care will be in the hands of our new MLAs and Ministers.
We want to ensure that our health and social care services deliver high quality, person-centred care to everyone facing a cancer diagnosis.
That’s why Macmillan is calling on all the political parties to ensure that the Cancer Services Framework is implemented in full.
The framework recommends that everyone who is diagnosed with cancer should have access to a Clinical Nurse Specialist, or CNS, to coordinate their care, help them through treatment, answer questions and direct them to the support services they need.
We know that having access to a specialist cancer nurse improves patient experience. This was one of the key findings of Northern Ireland’s first Cancer Patient Experience Survey (2015).
But we’re a long way off our goal.
That’s why Macmillan needs supporters to back our election calls and lobby their candidates on our behalf.
More people than ever before can expect to receive a cancer diagnosis in their lifetime. At the same time, advances in treatment mean that more people are living with cancer. The challenge to our politicians and health and social care services, then, is to make the best possible use of resources.
We know that our health and social care services are under pressure to do more with less. We must continue to work together – politicians, health commissioners, charities and patients – to ensure we can deliver the best possible care for people who are in active treatment, recovering from cancer or approaching end of life.
Doing nothing is not an option.
Traditional approaches to cancer care must change to meet current and future demand, as well as catering for the needs of the growing number of people who are coping with more than one illness or long term condition.
Every day in Northern Ireland, 30 people hear the devastating news that they have cancer. Macmillan believes that everyone – regardless of where they live, the type of cancer they have, or the hospital they attend for treatment – should have equal access to high quality care.