Cancer Matters: 2021 Scottish Parliament election

The 2021 Elections are a vital opportunity for us to join together and make our voices heard.

Cancer is still Scotland’s biggest killer. 1 in 2 people will be diagnosed with cancer in our lifetime — there are significant health inequalities in Scotland that see people from more deprived communities more likely to be diagnosed late and die from cancer.

When the coronavirus pandemic hit, thousands of vital cancer treatments, appointments and care were postponed or cancelled. The consequences of this disruption to cancer services are impossible to ignore. Macmillan hears every day from people in desperate need of support. People still aren’t able to get the timely support they need, and the emotional impact of the outbreak is continuing to take its toll on people already struggling.

The cancer care system is facing unprecedented challenges. The elections are a vital opportunity for us to join together and make sure candidates know that cancer matters during these elections, and beyond.

In the run-up to Polling Day, Macmillan needs your help to make sure representatives won’t let cancer become the forgotten ‘C’ when they are elected.

Cancer affects every part of someone’s life. Now more than ever, people living with cancer must be able to get the right treatment and care, with the right support, at the right time.

Our calls for the next Scottish Parliament

The Scottish Cancer Recovery plan 2020-23 is implemented in full

  • Macmillan Cancer Support wants to see Recovery and Redesign: An Action Plan for Cancer Services implemented in full, with the workforce that is required in place to support it.
  • The plan commits to implementing the Transforming Cancer Care programme, which is jointly funded by the Scottish Government and Macmillan Cancer Support.
  • This partnership will make Scotland the first country in the UK where all cancer patients will have access to a key support worker to receive dedicated financial, practical and emotional support.
  • The rollout of this programme must be prioritised to ensure all cancer patients have access to the personalised care and support they need, particularly as we know many people will have been diagnosed later due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and their needs will be even greater than normal.
    • One in three people with cancer in Scotland (32%) are severely financially impacted by their diagnosis, as having cancer can bring all sorts of financial pressures, such as loss of income due to being off work, increased household bills and travel to and from hospital appointments for treatment.
    • Therefore, in order to tackle cancer poverty, improve health and reduce inequalities, everyone who receives a cancer diagnosis should automatically be signposted to high quality income maximisation advice throughout all Health and Social Care Partnerships.
  • The Recovery Plan also commits to a third Cancer Patient Experience Survey (CPES): 'With Macmillan Cancer Support, we will develop and deliver the third Scottish Cancer Patient Experience Survey, benefitting from benchmarking against previous surveys to further understand COVID-19 impacts on cancer patients.'
  • The commitment to regular CPES surveys is one way of ensuring that people with lived experience of the Scottish cancer care system have their voices heard by decisionmakers.

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Health Committee investigates cancer in Scotland

  • Recovery and Redesign: An Action Plan for Cancer Services sets out the direction for cancer services until 2023. The Scottish Parliament Health Committee should undertake an Inquiry to help inform what comes next for cancer services by considering what progress has been made through recent Scottish Government cancer plans.
  • An inquiry also provides the opportunity to examine the true extent and impact of the backlog in cancer diagnosis and care caused by the cancellation and delays of vital appointments, surgeries and treatments during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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A new palliative and end of life care strategy is published

  • The Scottish Government should establish a new palliative and end of life care strategy or plan to succeed the existing PEOLC strategy in 2021.
  • The impact of delays to treatment and diagnoses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic means we will see increased numbers of people who will have their cancer diagnosed later, which can impact on their overall prognosis and survival.
  • There has been a shift of almost 50% more cancer patients dying at home during the pandemic, and there must be a renewed focus to ensure the health system is equipped and prepared with the resources required to meet the changing needs of people at end of life.

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Take action for people living with cancer in Scotland

You can take action by:

We need MSPs to be a strong voice for the thousands of people living with cancer in Scotland. Together, let’s make sure the issues affecting people living with cancer are at the forefront of the new Parliament’s agenda.

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