It’s time to end the postcode lottery
This is an excerpt from a piece that originally appeared in Daily Telegraph, and was written by Judith Potts.
Almost four years ago, in June 2014, I attended the inaugural showing of ‘I am not the cancer’. This art installation – created by British artists Tim Wainwright and John Wynne – used the disembodied voices of three women whose breast cancer had metastasised. The three talked openly and starkly about the realities of living with secondary breast cancer, as the viewer watched only the women’s unspeaking faces in close up. As people emerged from the darkened room, some people – who had perhaps not entirely appreciated that ‘secondary’ actually meant incurable – were shocked into anger at the lack of awareness, care and treatment. I remember talking to Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) Gill Donovan from the Velindre Cancer Centre in Cardiff, who was one of too few CNS’s giving care to those with advanced breast cancer.
I thought again of Gill when I read the report from the All Party Parliamentary Group on Breast Cancer into geographical inequalities – i.e. the postcode lottery – in the diagnosis, treatment and care of people with breast cancer. Part of the report reads: ‘People with secondary breast cancer are not getting the treatment, support and care they need. The Cancer Taskforce identified gaps in the support and services offered to people with secondary breast cancer, including variation in access to a CNS.’
The report also highlighted that some multidisciplinary teams are not routinely discussing their secondary breast cancer patients; there is patchy provision of information for patients; patients’ psychosocial needs are not being met and there is a lack of prompt and timely access to specialist palliative care services.
It appears that four years later we are still in the same situation.
Read the full, original piece on the Daily Telegraph website.
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