14 April 2016
Jo Coulson is scoping lead on the project
Macmillan Cancer Support and Disability Solutions have joined together to launch a new Staffordshire wide project working with people from the LGBT communities who are affected by cancer.
LGBT and Cancer Staffordshire is being funded by Macmillan and run by Stoke-based Disability Solutions. Over the next two years, the project will be talking with support groups and individuals from the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities about their experiences of cancer – whether they have had cancer themselves or have cared for partners with cancer, as well as talking with their families, friends and carers and healthcare professionals.
'The last national cancer patient experience survey showed the LGBT communities consistently scored lower than the straight community on 24 indicators,' said Jo Coulson, who is scoping lead for the project. 'There’s a lively gay scene and LGBT communities in Staffordshire, but it is very fragmented. In big cities like Manchester and Birmingham, they have a central hub for these communities, so if people are questioning their sexuality, they know where they can find support, but that’s not the case here.
'Added to this, from my previous role on the Transforming Cancer and End of Life Care programme, I know that cancer services are not always joined up in Staffordshire, so this project will look at whether services and support meet the needs of the LGBT communities, identify gaps and make recommendations about any changes that need to be made.'
It is estimated that there may be 40,000 LGBT people living with cancer in the UK, yet relatively little is known about their experiences and the support they have received. A survey carried out for Stoke Pride two years ago found that of 125 respondents, 107 said they had been affected by cancer, either directly themselves, or through partners or relatives having had cancer; many felt there was a lack of empathy for LGBT people, and that information was not in the right format for them.
Jo added: 'Skin cancer case numbers are quite high among gay men due to high tanning bed usage, while transgender people are at added risk of cancer from the hormone treatment they receive. In the transgender community there are also added difficulties, for example, a male to female transgender person will still have a prostate gland and female to male may still have a cervix, so then if they develop prostate or cervical cancer the question can arise about whether they are treated on male or female wards.
'These are just some of the aspects this project will be exploring, with a view to making recommendations and redesigning services. Everybody talks about patient-centred care, but if gender status and sexuality are not taken into consideration, then it’s not patient-centred for everyone,' she said.
If you would like to know more, contact Jo or Angie Bunn on 01782 667332, firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com