Inequalities in cancer care, services and outcomes
In this session delegates heard that improving information and data collection is key to addressing inequalities in cancer.
This breakout was chaired by John Baron MP, Chair of the APPG on Cancer, Chris Carrigan, Head of National Coordinating Team, National Cancer Intelligence Network; Paul Mackenzie, Health Inequalities Manager, Merseyside & Cheshire Cancer Network and John Hayes, Deputy Director, Merseyside & Cheshire Cancer Network.
Delegates also worked in groups to identify the key challenges and opportunities which the Government’s health reforms present to tackle cancer inequalities.
Group work with John Baron MP
Delegates were informed that a major challenge in tackling cancer inequalities is the lack of statistical data on some equality strands, including: disability, sexuality and religious belief. This makes it difficult to know the extent to which inequality exists and which interventions are effective.
There is also a lack of information for patients, who need high quality information throughout the cancer pathway so that they can make informed choices about their care.
A further challenge identified is the fast-paced and extensive reforms which the Government is planning for the health service, including the transition to GP consortia, the formation of local Healthwatch bodies and the movement to value based pricing of drugs. Starting initiatives to tackle cancer inequalities in this ever changing context is very difficult. Delegates believed that cancer multidisciplinary teams need to communicate effectively with GP consortia to ensure progress is maintained.
Delegates agreed that inequalities in experience as well as outcomes need to be addressed. Many saw access to clinical nurse specialists as critical to this.
What needs to happen next?
At a local level, there needs to be a joined-up approach between different agencies (not just those that relate to health) because they transcend organisational boundaries
Expertise of cancer networks needs to remain as the NHS goes through the transitional period
More research into the causes of cancer inequalities
Many delegates felt clinical nurse specialists need to be accessible in the community
Employers need to be trained to have greater understanding of their obligations to cancer patients under the Equality Act.