There are almost 1.5 million people in the UK caring for someone with cancer, yet more than half of these carers aren’t getting the support they need.

Many people don’t see themselves as a carer and often aren’t identified by health and social care professionals. This means they often don’t know that support is available to them. Too frequently we hear of carers feeling isolated, lonely and anxious, and not knowing who to turn to for support.

Our new report, ‘Under Pressure: The growing strain on cancer carers’, shows that cancer carers across the UK are under more pressure than ever before which is taking a toll on their health, finances and working lives.

Carers who are not supported can reach crisis point. This has a negative impact all round – for the individual and person they care for, and an added cost on the health and social care system.

We all have a role to play in raising awareness of carers, and providing them with the support they need and deserve. Governments, health bodies, local authorities, private providers and the third sector need to work together to identify carers who have, or may develop, unmet needs for care and support.


On 1 April 2015, the Care Act 2014 and Statutory Guidance came into effect. Under the guidance, local authorities and health bodies in England must work together to identify carers. This is an important first step to making sure people caring for someone with cancer get the support they need is to recognise them as carers.

As with any law, it only makes a difference if it’s put into practice. We will continue to campaign on this issue to make sure all those caring for someone with cancer get the support they need.

Later this year, a new Carers’ Strategy for England will be published which sets out how carers will be supported over the next five years. Macmillan is working with the Government to ensure that the specific needs of cancer carers are recognised in the new strategy.



The new Carers (Scotland) Bill that was recently passed at Holyrood will give new rights to Carers of cancer patients to get an assessment of their needs.

Macmillan’s programme in Glasgow has shown us that there is a huge pool of carers out there that deserve recognition and support in their role. We believe sign-posting that helped a carer get the new Carers Support Plan would the starting point to supporting the carer and the cancer patient.


Wales /Cymru

The Social Services & Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 came into force in April 2016. The Act places carers on an equal footing with those they care for, meaning that for the first time in Wales, all carers are entitled to an assessment of their ability to provide care. Where needed, Local Authorities will work with organisations to provide support to ensure carers can maintain their own well-being.

Macmillan is part of the Wales Carers Alliance and we work in collaboration to inform, support and monitor policy changes aimed at improving how the needs of carers are met in Wales.


Daeth Deddf Gwasanaethau Cymdeithasol a Lles (Cymru) 2014 i rym ym mis Ebrill 2016. Mae’r Ddeddf yn rhoi gofalwyr ar delerau cyfartal â’r rheiny y maent yn gofalu amdanynt, sy’n golygu am y tro cyntaf yng Nghymru, bod gan bob gofalwr hawl i gael asesiad o’u gallu i ddarparu gofal. Lle bo angen, bydd yr Awdurdodau Lleol yn gweithio gyda sefydliadau i ddarparu cymorth i sicrhau y gall gofalwyr gynnal eu lles eu hunain.

Mae Macmillan yn rhan o Gynghrair Gofalwyr Cymru ac rydym yn gweithio mewn cydweithrediad er mwyn llywio, cefnogi a monitro newidiadau polisi gyda’r nod o wella’r ffordd y mae anghenion gofalwyr yn cael eu bodloni yng Nghymru.


Northern Ireland

Health and Social Care Trusts in Northern Ireland are obliged inform carers about their right to a carer’s assessment. However, there is no legal definition in place to help identify people who provide ‘regular and substantial care’. Macmillan is concerned that health and social care professionals do not routinely signpost cancer carers to support and too few have their needs formally assessed.

That’s why Macmillan NI is campaigning to ensure that carers are identified and offered the support they need. We are working in partnership with Carers NI, Carers Trust and the Long Term Conditions Alliance to promote enhanced services for carers.  We have also joined forces with Newry and Mourne Carers (NMC) to provide services for carers looking after people affected by cancer in the Southern Health and Social Care Trust. 


Key UK reports

A collection of our UK key reports are available to download below. Please see nation specific resources above.

Tick the document name to select. Then click ‘Download selected’ to download