Dealing with cancer is by no means easy, and patients require a whole range of different types of support, going beyond the medical treatment they receive.
In recent weeks I’ve been pleased to meet with representatives from the blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan, whose research has found that one in five stem cell transplant patients are not offered any specialist care to help with their recovery, which includes access to physiotherapists, counsellors, and fertility experts.
This is despite patients often being known as ‘patients for life’ due to the long-term side-effects of treatment.
No patient’s recovery should be made more difficult by a lack of care and support, and I welcome Anthony Nolan calling on health commissioners to review the care arrangements they have in place after stem cell transplant patients leave hospital.
It’s my privilege to chair the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Blood Cancer. We’re currently conducting an inquiry into blood cancer care within the NHS, and while we are due to publish our report in the coming months, this is by no means the end of my campaigning for better treatment for blood cancer patients and their support networks.
I’ve written to the Health Secretary on this issue and I continue to follow up. I recently received assurances from the Department of Health that NHS England wants all cancer patients to have access to the Recovery Package by 2020.
The Recovery Package will provide more personal care for cancer patients, starting at diagnosis and going through until their treatment ends.
In practical terms, this means patients working with their care team to put together a plan for their physical needs as well as additional support, such as assistance at home or financial advice.
By addressing such issues and ensuring they’re taken care of, patients and their families can give an even greater focus to beating cancer.
Henry Smith MP