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11 December 2015 09:13
Emergency care for people living with cancer is piling pressure on the NHS, a group says
The NHS is having to provide too much emergency care for people with cancer, according to a new report from Macmillan Cancer Support.
The group says the lack of support for people living with the disease is placing an unsustainable burden on the health service.
And it is calling on the Government and the NHS to rectify the situation by funding the life-long cost of supporting survivors after their initial treatment is finished.
Macmillan says in England the NHS is spending over half a billion pounds each year on emergency care for patients with the four commonest cancers.
Over £130 million of that, it adds, goes on treating patients over six months on from their diagnosis and usually after their initial treatment has been completed.
It says the "dysfunctional" system now in place is failing to help those living with cancer recover and regain a good quality of life.
One thing which can help people during their road to recovery is taking a relaxing holiday with family or friends, something which can be covered by a cancer travel insurance policy.
Macmillan's executive director of services and influencing, Juliet Bouverie, says for people with cancer emergency care should be a last resort.
But the group says while the cost of care during initial treatment for the 40,000 women diagnosed every year with early-stage breast cancer amounts to some £155 million, the amount spent afterwards is £250 million.
Ms Bouverie says the fact that so much money is being spent on such care shows the system is not designed to help people take control of their health after their initial treatment.
The time has now come, she adds, for the NHS and the Government to fully fund a change in approach and recognise that people have to live with the effects of cancer for the rest of their lives, even after their treatment has finished.
With an increasing number of people surviving cancer, it is estimated that some 3.4 million in England will be living with the disease by 2030.
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