Macmillan charity criticises cancer social care

Local government and primary care trusts are being urged to be more ‘joined up’ in the commissioning of social care services for people with cancer.

Macmillan Cancer Support says people living with cancer, or the consequences of their treatment, often need help with emotional problems, side effects of treatment, getting back to work or paying the bills.

But the charity claims new research shows these needs are not catered for by either the NHS or local authorities.

Macmillan found that some patients and carers were not referred to social care services for assessment and those that were often did not get services flexible or responsive enough to specific needs.

Jane Gammage, Head of Lifecare at Macmillan Cancer Support said: “The social care system is failing the 1.6 million people living with cancer in England and their carers.

“The perception is that people are either cured of cancer or they die. There is simply no recognition of the growing need for social care services from the moment someone is diagnosed, throughout treatment and beyond.

“With more and more people living longer with or beyond cancer today, cancer care must mean support for the whole person, and not just treatment for the disease.”

Ms Gammage says inadequate co-ordination between health and social care teams means that, in many areas, good social care services for cancer patients and their carers do not exist and people are left to fend for themselves.

“Cancer must be considered as much as social care concern as it is a health priority, and we hope this is acknowledged in the Government’s Green Paper expected next month,” she said.

Macmillan wants the social care needs of people living with cancer and their carers to be better understood by commissioners, more money to be invested in new services and more integration between Primary Care Trusts and local government when commissioning social care services.

Macmillan’s report: Do Social Care Services meet the needs of people affected by cancer?