Macmillan Cancer Support has called for better use of pooled health and social care budgets and joint commissioning of services to improve care for the 1.6 million people with cancer in England.
In a report today, Macmillan said the NHS and local authorities were “ignoring” the social care needs of people with cancer, such as help with emotional problems, side-effects of treatment, and getting back to work.
Jane Gammage, the charity’s head of lifecare, said there was “no recognition of the growing need for social care services from the moment someone is diagnosed, throughout treatment and beyond”.
Lack of co-ordination
She added: “A lack of co-ordination between health and social care teams means that, in many areas, good social care services for cancer patients and their carers simply don’t exist and people are left to fend for themselves.”
Macmillan’s report was based on 15 in-depth interviews with commissioners of social care and cancer care, four interviews with social care providers, and six interviews with groups of three people with cancer and carers.
The charity said the joint commissioning of services by local authorities and primary care trusts (PCTs) “appears to have the potential to encourage more comprehensive coverage of the needs of people with a range of conditions in commissioning strategies”.
However, although some PCTs and councils were pooling budgets, others were planning services jointly but delivering them from separate budgets.
The report pointed to a lack of resources to commission more services, “inflexible provision” of existing services, and inadequate signposting to support for service users.
It also called for local commissioners to assess the social care needs of people with cancer and their carers, as part of their joint strategic needs assessment.