Help us demand more for cancer patients

Join us to tell your Scottish Parliament election candidates good cancer support is too important to be left to chance.

The Scottish Parliament elections will take place in May 2016. We need your help to put people with cancer and their families at the top of the political agenda.

We want everyone with cancer in Scotland to get the best quality treatment and care. But just treating the illness isn’t enough. Cancer can impact on every aspect of life, bringing emotional, financial, practical and physical problems that can last long after treatment ends. Debt, depression, loneliness and mobility problems are just a few of the issues people can face after being diagnosed with cancer.

Too often people don't get the help they need to deal with these problems. Frustratingly this often happens simply because no one tells them help is available, even when it is just a phone call away.

We want everyone diagnosed with cancer to be offered a full assessment of all their needs. They must then be supported to get help dealing with the problems they are facing, whether that help comes from Macmillan, another charity, the local council or any other organisation providing support services.

The new cancer plan for Scotland published in March 2016 promises this will happen. We are calling on all the political parties to pledge that if they get into power after the May election, they'll take urgent action to see this through.

How you can help cancer patients in Scotland

Email your Scottish Parliament election candidates and ask them to pledge that if they get into power, they will make sure every person diagnosed with cancer is offered the support they need.

Read below for more about each of our election calls and what they mean to Charlie, Mandy, Alan and Helen.

We are calling on the next Scottish Government to commit to:

Ensure everyone with cancer is offered help with all their support needs

Ensure everyone with cancer is offered an assessment of their physical, emotional, practical and financial needs followed by a written support plan.

Cancer can impact on every aspect of life, bringing emotional, financial, practical and physical problems that can last long after treatment ends.

Despite this, there is no requirement for cancer patients to be asked about their wider support needs or directed onto any kind of support. This means while some people get the help they need, others cope alone, unaware help is just a phone call away.

Macmillan Scotland believes everyone diagnosed with cancer deserves the highest quality of care and support available. Our Holistic Needs Assessment (HNA) is already being used in parts of Scotland including by the Macmillan-funded Improving the Cancer Journey service in Glasgow. We’d like to see this tool rolled out across the country.

The cancer plan published in March promises a Holistic Needs Assessment and care plan for all cancer patients. This is great news but we now need every political party in Scotland to pledge that if they get into power after the May election, they will make sure this happens as quickly as possible.

From the moment they doctor said it was cancer, I didn’t know which way to turn, I wasn’t aware of the kind of support and advice available.

Mandy, Glasgow

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Commit to transforming care after cancer treatment

Commit to using evidence from the Macmillan-funded TCAT programme to vastly improve care after treatment across Scotland, making sure the NHS; social care system is prepared to meet the needs of the growing number of cancer survivors with long term problems.

Around 220,000 people in Scotland are living with or beyond a diagnosis of cancer. By 2030 this is expected to rise to at least 360,000.

It’s great news more people are surviving cancer. But the system isn’t set up to support the growing number of people living with the long term impacts of the illness and its treatments.

Too many people don’t get the emotional, financial or practical help they need. Left alone to deal with problems ranging from debt and depression, to fatigue and pain, some people talk of feeling abandoned by the system.

Macmillan wants to make sure no one in Scotland needs to face the long term consequences of cancer alone.

That’s why we want the next Scottish Government to commit to making much needed changes within the NHS and social care.

The Macmillan-funded Transforming Care After Treatment programme is testing better ways to support those who’ve finished treatment. The evidence emerging from this work must be used to improve care across Scotland. The new cancer plan talks positively about the programme, but we need all political parties to promise that the new ways of working emerging from TCAT will inform future cancer policy.

It was after my cancer treatment ended, my problems really began.

Alan, East Renfrewshire

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Ask cancer patients about their experience of care and support via a regular survey

Ask cancer patients about their experiences of care and support via a regular Cancer Patient Experience Survey, bringing Scotland into line with the other countries in the UK.

Survival rates and waiting lists are important measures of our cancer care system, however numbers and statistics can only tell us so much. They can’t tell us whether those diagnosed with cancer were told sensitively. They can’t tell us whether they felt that they were respected by the staff they encountered, or whether they felt they received the treatment and support that was right for them. That’s why we need a Cancer Patient Experience Survey, a survey that asks thousands of people who had have cancer their views of the care and support they received.

The Scottish Government agreed to the first patient experience survey last year, jointly funded by Macmillan, and the results will be published in the summer of 2016. These results will provide invaluable insight into where our cancer care system is doing well and where it must be improve.

In the cancer plan published in March the Scottish Government committed to carrying out the survey on a regular basis. We now need all political parties to pledge their support for this.

No one talks about problems after treatment so I didn't realise it was normal. I felt ungrateful for needing more support.

Helen, Lanarkshire

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Become an e-campaigner

If you’d like to become an e-campaigner to be kept up to date with our work, sign up here.

By being part of the network you will have the opportunity to take action and make a real difference.

Just fill in the details in our form and we will keep you up to date with ways in which you can support our campaigns. You'll also get the latest news from our campaigns through our e-newsletter every two months.