Young cancer patients 'must not be forgotten' as NHS England works to improve cancer outcomes, CLIC Sargent warns. The charity welcomes the announcement of investment in radiotherapy care, but notes a lack of concrete progress for children and young people with cancer within an annual NHS report into improving cancer standards.
The NHS England update, released 25 October 2016, looks back on the steps taken toward achieving world class cancer outcomes in England following the recommendations of the 2015 NHS Cancer Strategy.
Although positive progress has been taken towards several outcomes, CLIC Sargent, the charity which supports children and young people with cancer, claims more needs to be done to address the specific challenges faced by young cancer patients.
CLIC Sargent Chief Executive, Kate Lee, said: "While we welcome the positive work toward improving outcomes for adult cancer patients, young cancer patients, and the particular challenges they face, must not be forgotten.
"Young cancer patients often have a very difficult diagnosis and patient experience and as the NHS continues to work towards the challenging five year target it has set for itself, it is crucial that concrete steps are taken toward improving these experiences. This issue has also been raised in a recent report from the All Party Parliamentary Group on Cancer."
While it is encouraging to see patient experience being treated with similar levels of importance as clinical targets, CLIC Sargent believes that quality patient experience data needs to be captured for children and young people.
At present no patient experience data is captured for under 16-year-olds with cancer. It is a recommendation for NHS England to deliver on in the next year and we look forward to working with them to make progress.
Children and young people with cancer, and their complex needs, must not be forgotten.
"Children and young people with cancer, and their complex needs, must not be forgotten. It is very important that their needs are understood, and more information will give greater clarity as to how the NHS, and later CLIC Sargent, can best support them."
The Independent National Cancer Advisory Group, of which Kate Lee is a member, has also highlighted that urgent action needs to be taken on workforce capacity in order to successfully deliver the recommendations of the Cancer Strategy.
Kate Lee added: "We will continue to work through the National Cancer Advisory Group and other avenues to make sure that every possible step is taken to improve the lives and experiences of children and young people diagnosed with cancer."
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Every day, 10 children and young people in the UK hear the shocking news they have cancer. Treatment normally starts immediately, is often given many miles from home and can last for up to three years. Although survival rates are over 80%, cancer remains the single largest cause of death from disease in children and young people in the UK.
About CLIC Sargent
CLIC Sargent is the UK’s leading cancer charity for children and young people, and their families. We provide clinical, practical and emotional support to help them cope with cancer and get the most out of life. For more information visit www.clicsargent.org.uk
Note to sub editors
Please note that the name ‘CLIC Sargent’ should not be abbreviated to CLIC, and that the word ‘CLIC’ should always appear in capitals, as above.