Over the course of the last week I have been finalising plans for a new inquiry I am launching as part of my work as Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Blood Cancer.
This is a role I have held since starting the Group in 2016. It is one dear to my heart following the sudden loss of a close family member to acute myeloid leukaemia, which is one of almost 140 different types of blood cancer.
There are more than 40,000 people diagnosed with a blood cancer each year in the UK, and over 250,000 people are currently living with blood cancer. It is a type of cancer that affects your blood cells, with leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma among the most well-known.
Much of the Group’s work over the last year has concerned the impact and effects of Covid-19 on people with blood cancer. This has included meetings with Government ministers including the Secretary of State for Health & Social Care, Written Parliamentary Questions and raising the issue in the House of Commons.
Alongside the APPG on Stem Cell Transplantation we are now ready to launch our next inquiry, into the impact of Covid-19 on blood cancer services.
The blood cancer community have been shielding for over a year, and have been one of the groups greatest struck by the pandemic to physical and psychological detriment.
Having blood cancer holds a similar risk to being over the age of 80, with vaccines much less likely to be effective.
The two APPGs are holding a joint inquiry into what is needed for blood cancer services to be able to recover from issues that have been caused or exacerbated by the pandemic.
We will be inviting the Government, NHS England, patient organisations, pharmaceutical companies as well as healthcare professionals to submit written and oral evidence. The perspectives of people directly affected by blood cancer will also be used to inform this inquiry.
Contributions from people living with blood cancer and medical professionals in Crawley would be welcome. Details of the inquiry are being published via the APPGs’ respective Twitter accounts: @APPGBloodCancer and @APPGStemCell.
With health matters being devolved, the inquiry will focus on blood cancer services in England.
Some of the issues which the inquiry will look at include how NHS England can ensure that people living with blood cancer receive high quality care and treatment, as well as the effect of the pandemic on rates of diagnosis, the length of waiting times and types of treatment for blood cancer.
We will also look into subjects including how patient access to specialised therapies such as stem cell transplants alongside post-Covid recovery can be best enabled.
Henry Smith MP