Yesterday I attended the All Party Parliamentary Group on Cancer’s Conference in London.
Very interesting day and great to hear HPV and Cervical cancer mentioned in both Jon Ashworth’s and Jeremy Hunt’s speeches. Of course both are political at the moment as the govt decides if it will roll out HPV vaccination for boys and just how much it can cut back on cervical screening services post vax. As always its all about the money.
Various speakers reinforced the idea that symptom awareness is the key to earlier diagnosis. Earlier diagnosis results in better outcomes and cheaper treatment pathways. Who better to educate about symptoms than survivors?
I sat through a talk which sold itself on being about building alliances with patients (Patient still seemed to be the ‘poor relation’) I sat through another talk about Big Data. Lots of acronyms of different places people could find data on all sorts of things. SO much duplication. I listened to the head of NHE, the body in charge of making sure that the NHS has enough skilled staff to future proof itself. She was due to present a report of the state of staffing and skills a year ago, then extended to this December. Guess what? No report. Just how much money is being wasted by writing reports. studies, attending and putting on conferences??? If the NHS was in a really healthy financial position it would be ok. But it’s not. It’s on it’s knees. WILL YOU PLEASE ALL STOP WASTING MY MONEY.
There is 200 million available to NHS trusts to transform cancer care. Its a big amount of money but not huge when you compare it to CRUK’s annual donations. Here’s the rub though. Only trusts currently achieving their 62 day wait target can unlock their money. The 62 day wait is the time from urgent GP referral to treatment starting. That sounds like a long time, but you’ve got to have your initial hospital appointment, scans, biopsies, treatment plans etc before you start treatment. If they don’t reach their target no money is released.
Jeremy wants to see far more earlier diagnosis. Don’t we all. He was incredibly proud of the ‘scanners in the supermarket’ pilot where people can be screened for lung cancer at their supermarket car park. But can you see the problem here? All these patients end up not being dealt with by the alliances, the networks. the dashboards, the data sets, the conference speakers, the charity CEO’s, the politicians, the strategic transformation plan managers, the studies, the researchers. They get dealt with by the NHS frontline. That is underfunded, overworked, underpaid, overstretched and full of unfilled vacancies.
It’s like trying to increase the productivity of a bakery by planning for the wheat, strategising on the flour, advising on the yeast, collecting data on the crust and forgetting to buy some more ovens.
How, just how, do these people get to be in these positions. Put the Doctors, nurses and patients in charge. Forget the charities who have also fallen into this trap of conferencing, strategising, reporting, spending, duplicating. Take all that ‘Cancer Money’ and put it where is matters, run by people who know what is needed and care.
I am a cancer patient. I know how the system works. I know what I need. I know what I don’t.
Last night I had a very unexpected bleed. (Yep my annual Christmas fuck up) Right now I don’t need reports, studies, politicians, charities. I need my nurse. Thank god she is still there, getting paid less than 90% of the people there yesterday I bet.