Tag Archives: Public affairs

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.

Programme for Government must improve cancer care

The new Programme for Government must be able to address the physical, emotional, practical and financial impact of cancer.

That’s the key message running through our response to the first stage of consultation on what Northern Ireland’s devolved government should aim to achieve during the next five years.

Macmillan campaigned before the Assembly election in May to make sure that cancer care remained high on the political agenda. We were delighted that many parties made clear commitments around cancer and several also included our specific calls in their manifestos.

The NI Executive is now creating its Programme for Government, which is structured in a new way. It’s using an outcomes framework to set the overall aims before action plans are developed on how to achieve these.

Because the framework has to be agreed before detailed plans can be drawn up, the Executive is using a two-stage consultation process to capture the views of the public.

Macmillan welcomes a number of commitments made in the draft Framework. These include reducing health inequality and improving patient experience, mental health and care services, as well as increasing quality of life for people with disabilities.

Our response calls for a range of additional goals including better end of life care, support for carers and a reduction in fuel poverty.

When the agreed framework is published in autumn, we will recommend specific actions that could help the Executive achieve its goals and improve the lives of people affected by cancer.

We’re also watching for announcements about a proposed cancer strategy for Northern Ireland, something which several political parties committed to in their manifesto. Any strategy that is developed must meet the needs of people living with cancer, both during and after treatment.

Macmillan looks forward to building on our track record of working with the Northern Ireland Executive to develop, improve and modernise cancer support services.

In the meantime, please get in touch with our Policy Officer Michael if you’d like to read Macmillan NI’s full response to the Programme for Government Framework.

Email mmoore@macmillan.org.uk to request a copy.