Category Archives: Campaigns

We can’t press pause on cancer care during political crisis

More people in Northern Ireland are living with cancer than ever before. This number continues to rise and is expected to reach 74,000 by 2020. Already too many people face cancer without the care and support they need to live well during and after treatment.

Macmillan invested more than £6million in the development and delivery of cancer services in Northern Ireland during 2016. We hope to see political stability return as soon as possible to ensure urgent improvements to cancer care can continue.

The collapse of the Northern Ireland Executive and the announcement of an election at the beginning of March has created much uncertainty. No budget has been agreed for government departments to deliver vital services throughout the year. Without political leadership, the important ongoing reforms in health and social care could be disrupted.

Responsibility for health and social care is entirely devolved, meaning that the NI Assembly must take key decisions. People facing a cancer diagnosis need parties to work together at Stormont, ensuring the best possible use of resources to meet the growing demand in a sustainable way.

That’s why we have been working hard since the last election in May 2016 to ensure that cancer care remains firmly on the agenda:

  • We wrote to every new Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) to provide an overview of our work in NI.
  • We met with MLAs who sit on the Health Committee and speak for their parties on healthcare issues.
  • We attended party conferences to get our message across to more representatives.
  • We sent briefings to make sure MLAs were aware of key issues ahead of an Assembly debate on cancer services.
  • We welcomed the Health Minister’s publication of the Expert Panel Report and ‘Health and Wellbeing 2026: Delivering Together’ and offered our continuing support to improve cancer care.
  • We launched our ‘Time to Deliver’ campaign to call on the Health Minister and the Committee for Health to work towards a new dedicated cancer strategy. We also responded to the draft Programme for Government to detail why a cancer strategy is needed and to outline steps for achieving high quality care for everyone diagnosed with cancer. (Download our Programme for Government response)
  • We held an event at Stormont to celebrate Macmillan nurses and promote their invaluable work to deliver and improve the support available for people living with cancer.

Macmillan is working to ensure that everyone living with cancer in Northern Ireland will receive high quality clinical treatment and person-centred care throughout their cancer journey – wherever they live, whatever type of cancer they have and whatever hospital they attend for treatment.

Cancer care has come a long way in recent years, but there is still clear room for improvement. We want to see a strategic approach to ensuring that everyone diagnosed with cancer receives the right care at each stage of the cancer journey.

We will continue to keep a close eye on developments and take all opportunities to bring the voice of people affected cancer to candidates and all who are elected in March.

Why I’m supporting Macmillan’s ‘Time to Deliver’ campaign

Madeleine speaking best.jpgMadeleine Coyle from Prehen in Derry is supporting Macmillan’s campaign for a Cancer Strategy for Northern Ireland.

When I was admitted to Altnagelvin Area Hospital in January 2013, suffering from pneumonia, little did I know that I had developed lung cancer.  Tests revealed that the disease was at an early stage.  I had to undergo surgery but was told I wouldn’t need follow-up chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

I was lucky.

During the course of my treatment, I received help from the Macmillan/North West Advice Service and their team of benefits advisors based in the Sperrin Unit within Altnagelvin Hospital.  Lisa, one of their advisers, sent me details of the different welfare payments I could claim and even helped me fill out all the forms.

I never expected to get help with benefit claim forms.  I didn’t know the service existed.  That’s why it’s so important to have support services in hospitals but you do need access to information and support in your local area too.

That’s why I’m supporting Macmillan’s ‘Time to Deliver’ campaign for a cancer strategy for Northern Ireland.  England, Scotland and Wales already have cancer plans in place which cover prevention, diagnosis, treatment, recovery and palliative and end of life care – all the stages of the cancer journey.

With more and more of us being diagnosed with cancer and living longer with the disease and the long term consequences of treatment, we need to ensure that any cancer strategy for Northern Ireland addresses the needs of people living with cancer after their treatment has ended.

You can support the campaign too. Just use Macmillan’s email template to contact the Health Minister to say you want to see cancer care become a priority in the new Programme for Government.

Click here to email the Health Minister using the template.

Time for parties to deliver on cancer commitments

It’s almost time for voters across Northern Ireland to choose which of the 276 candidates will fill the 108 seats in the next Assembly.

During the campaign, Macmillan NI asked all parties to commit to implementing the revised Cancer Services Framework and ensure equal access to clinical nurse specialists, person-centered care and advance care planning.

You can read more about each of our calls here.

Now, with just a week until the election, the political parties have launched their manifestos to spell out what they would like to achieve during the next five years.

We are delighted to see a wide range of policy goals which have the potential to improve the lives of people affected by cancer.

Here’s a selection of commitments on cancer care and related issues – parties in alphabetical order.

Alliance Party

  • Fully implement the Service Framework for Cancer Prevention, Treatment and Care.
  • Create a Comprehensive Cancer Strategy, addressing prevention, early detection, treatment and support for research.
  • Support parity of treatments and access to treatments with those available in the rest of the UK, including equity of access to drug treatments.
  • Provide Equal access to Clinical Nurse Specialists.
  • Ensure the Recovery Package is available to every patient progressing through and beyond treatment for cancer.
  • Promote of the use of Advanced Care Planning for people approaching end of life.

Democratic Unionist Party

  • Increase investment in cancer care by at least an additional 10% and introduce a new comprehensive cancer plan for the next decade.
  • Improve 5 year cancer survival rates by 20 percentage point from the establishment of devolved government.
  • Continue to promote awareness and prevention.
  • Establish innovative new services and provide more nurse specialists.
  • Support the additional investment of a minimum of £80 million to tackle waiting lists in each year of the Assembly term.

Green Party

  • Call for an independent review of the provision of support for older people at home, including the need for high-quality domiciliary care.
  • Work in partnership with charities and voluntary organisations that are championing patient care.
  • Promote health through the provision of safe walking, cycling routes, public parks, playgrounds, pitches, swimming pools and leisure centres.
  • Promote community healthcare, illness prevention and health promotion to combat the rising problems of obesity and its related diseases.
  • Support dignity in dying.

NI Conservatives

  • NHS should remain free to all at the point of use, and this extends to an opposition to the introduction of prescription charges in the NHS in Northern Ireland.
  • The Donaldson Report should be accepted in full by the Executive.
  • Services in Northern Ireland should be regionalised under a single umbrella Trust.
  • The time has come for the ‘Transforming Your Care’ agenda to become more than just words.
  • Potential should be unlocked through empowering community pharmacists through the commissioning of services from them.

Sinn Fein

  • Commit £1 billion to additional health spending;
  • Remove the ‘internal market’ within our health structures, specifically the commissioning/provider split;
  • Involve all health workers in decisions regarding the design of a health care system that best meets people’s needs;
  • Implement recommendations by the Older Person’s Commissioner on the culture of care provision, dealing with regulation and inspection, standards of care, protecting whistle blowers and training and value of workforce;
  • Increase first year training intake for G.P. specialism.

Social Democratic and Labour Party

  • Introduce an overarching Cancer Strategy with clear measurable targets and timescales with sustained funding at its core.
  • The introduction of a Cancer Drugs Fund for Northern Ireland.
  • Ensuring Ministerial targets for urgent Breast Cancer referral and treatment are complied with.
  • A ‘Tobacco-free Northern Ireland’ and the enactment of legislation banning smoking in cars with children.
  • Calling for the HPV vaccination programme to be extended to include adolescent boys.

Traditional Unionist Voice

  • Everyone newly diagnosed with cancer should have access to a Clinical Nurse Specialist.
  • Full compliance with Ministerial Targets for Cancer.
  • Support for guaranteed adequate funding to provide universal access to NICE approved drugs.
  • Support campaigns to highlight the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.

Ulster Unionist Party

  • Introduce a NI cancer care strategy.
  • Detect and treat earlier.
  • Plan for the implications of an older population.
  • Equal access to clinical nurse specialists.
  • Adopt NICE approved drugs.
  • Improve end of life care.

UK Independence Party

  • No more waiting lists for appointments to ease pain.
  • Ensure the NHS is free, at the point of need, for all Northern Ireland residents.
  • Demand a better deal for Carers.
  • Press for free car parking at hospitals for patients visitors.
  • Oppose the sale of NHS data to third parties.

Macmillan NI blog launch: Time to Choose 2016

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.

Read more about our election calls.