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Cancer carers 'need more support'

16 October 2013 08:50

A cancer charity is calling for more support for carers

A cancer charity is calling for more support for carers

A cancer charity is calling for more support for carers after a poll showed many are carrying out healthcare tasks with little or no training.

A poll of more than 2,000 carers for Macmillan Cancer Support showed that one in five - the equivalent of 240,000 people - do things like manage catheters, of whom 53% said that they had inadequate training from a health expert.

In addition, one in five (21%) who had received some training said they felt it was not enough.

Half of carers with little or no training said they had been frightened by the situation and 63% said they had felt distressed.

More than a third (36%) had resorted to calling 999 or a doctor for advice on how to help the person they were caring for, the poll showed, stressing the importance of arranging travel insurance for cancer patients before heading off on a trip.

Macmillan has called for amendments in the care bill to ensure that cancer carers are supported by the NHS in England.

Chief executive Ciaran Devane said: "Not only do cancer carers give hours of emotional support and practical help, they are performing clinical duties. It's a huge responsibility they take on out of duty and love. Families and carers are the backbone of society and they deserve to be supported.

"Without support, cancer carers can go beyond breaking point which is bad for them and their loved one but is also costly to the NHS and ultimately to the taxpayer.

"By identifying cancer carers and explaining what information and support is available, health professionals can vastly improve their quality of life and help them to continue caring - which is what they want to do."

He said it was "nonsensical" that the care bill as it currently stands places a legal duty only on local authorities to identify and support cancer carers, adding: "It's actually the health service that has the most contact with them."