Primary Care newsletter

October 2009

Welcome to Macmillan Cancer Support's newsletter for GPs to update you on activities in primary care.This month we'll be giving you all the news from the recent Primary Care Conference, and telling you about Macmillan's latest campaign - 'Good Day'.

You can also help us spread the word about free prescriptions to your patients and colleagues. From 1 April 2009, prescriptions have been free for cancer patients in England, but not everyone entitled to them is claiming them. Find out how you can get involved with this important campaign below.

Latest events

Primary Care Conference 2009

At the Primary Care Conference

This year’s annual Primary Care Conference took place on 24 and 25 September at the world famous Wembley Stadium.

The conference is an opportunity for all members of the primary care community to meet, network, share good practice and provide feedback on local and national developments. There were 20 places allocated for Cancer Voices to attend, to ensure patient and carer perspectives are captured as part of the learning and sharing experience.

Thursday evening opened with a welcome dinner with guest speaker Professor Mike Richards, who talked about early diagnosis of cancer, primary care community access to diagnostic tests and the introduction of Quality, Innovation, Prevention, Productivity (QIPP) standards. The second day was opened by Philippa Palmer; Macmillan’s Head of Healthcare, outlining Macmillan’s future healthcare plans and the importance of the primary care community to Macmillan.

The second day featured a number of interactive workshops and showcases on local and national achievements to date with opportunities for regional feedback and suggestions on improvements.

Interactive and informative workshops were given on the following topics:

Early diagnosis - update on and discussion of all NAEDI work processes in England, specifically focusing on diagnostic methods and primary care audit, drawing on and including the Scottish DES influence and experience.

End of life - end of life policy and initiatives across the UK, and the role of the Macmillan primary care community has in supporting their implementation.

Out of hours - developments in out of hours care across the UK and showcasing the Out of Hours Toolkit.

Advance care planning - understanding the nature and purpose of advance care planning, the known evidence base, and to share experiences of good (and poor) practice.

Commissioning - information about commissioning environments, with regards to both cancer and palliative care.

Survivorship - update on the national cancer survivorship initiative in England, as well as an overview of national survivorship policy developments in the UK.

Opportunities for improving cancer information in primary care - information about Macmillan’s new initiatives and help shape cancer information in primary care.

Details of the presentations by keynote speakers and workshop facilitators can be found on Learn Zone.

The Primary Care Conference is an annual event run by Macmillan for the primary care community. It is an excellent opportunity to bring together cancer-interested GPs and primary care staff. The next conference will be late 2010 and you'll be notified of the date once it's confirmed.


Latest news

Our new campaign

Our new campaign

On 5 October, Macmillan Cancer Support launched an important new service, our new freephone number 0808 808 00 00. The number brings together all of our old services, including; CancerLine, our benefits helpline, cancer information nurse helpline and YouthLine.

The new Macmillan Cancer Support website has also been launched, combining thousands of pages of accredited cancer information with advice on finding out about services and support we can provide people affected by cancer.

A new advertising campaign promoting the new services on TV, online and in the press has also been launched to ensure everyone is aware of the new services.

The Good Day campaign highlights that when you're living with cancer, the difference between a good day and a bad day can often come down to really small things. Getting answers on something you're worrying about. Finding out you can get some financial support. Or just having a chat with someone who understands. Every day Macmillan Cancer Support helps thousands of people to have a good day.

Call us on 0808 808 00 00 or visit for more information.

Help us spread the word

Free prescriptions for cancer patients

Prescriptions are now free for cancer patients in England

From 1 April 2009, cancer patients in England have been eligible for free prescriptions. All cancer patients undergoing treatment for cancer, the effects of cancer or the effects of cancer treatment can now apply.

How can they apply?
Patients can apply for an exemption certificate by collecting an application form from their GP surgery or oncology clinic.

How long does the exemption last?
Exemption certificates last for 5 years (but can be reapplied for).

Does the exception cover prescriptions related to cancer only?
No, all prescriptions will be free, including those for cancer, as a consequence of cancer, or unrelated to cancer. For example, prescriptions for HRT as a result of testicular cancer are exempt for charges under the scheme. The Department of Health is working with BMA to develop further guidance for GPs on how this exemption works and this will be available shortly.

Help us to spread the word
The Department of Health estimates that 150,000 people are eligible for free prescriptions in England. However, they have confirmed that not everyone is taking advantage. To help spread the message about the availability of free prescriptions, we've attached a poster [PDF, 310kb] to display in your waiting room. Posters can also be ordered from Be.Macmillan.

Further information
Further information and guidance is available from the Department of Health's website

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Our cancer support specialists are available on 0808 808 00 00, Monday to Friday, 9am-8pm.
Macmillan Cancer Support, registered charity in England and Wales (261017), Scotland (SC039907) and the Isle of Man (604). A company limited by guarantee, registered in England and Wales company number 2400969. Isle of Man company number 4694F. Registered office: 89 Albert Embankment, London SE1 7UQ.