Ter­mi­nal breast can­cer pa­tients ‘aban­doned’ in nurse short­age

Iran Daily - - Health -

Thou­sands of in­cur­able breast can­cer pa­tients are be­ing de­nied a ded­i­cated spe­cial­ist nurse, ac­cord­ing to Breast Can­cer Care.

The ¿gures show al­most three-quar­ters (72 per­cent) of NHS Trusts across the UK are not pro­vid­ing des­ig­nated nurses, BBC wrote.

Three years ago, the govern­ment promised all can­cer pa­tients would have ac­cess to a des­ig­nated nurse by 2020.

The De­part­ment of Health said it was ‘com­mit­ted to in­creas­ing the ca­pac­ity’ of spe­cial­ist can­cer nurses.

Samia al Qadhi, chief ex­ec­u­tive of char­ity Breast Can­cer Care, hit out at the de­te­ri­o­ra­tion in pa­tient care.

“Our stag­ger­ing ¿gures re­veal just how much NHS nurs­ing care for peo­ple with in­cur­able breast can­cer has stag­nated,” she said.

“Af­ter this life-chang­ing di­ag­no­sis, pa­tients con­tinue to be aban­doned with­out on­go­ing spe­cial­ist sup­port they need to man­age com­plex treat­ment and de­bil­i­tat­ing side ef­fects, like chronic pain and fa­tigue.”

The char­ity con­tacted NHS health trusts in the UK and ob­tained the data un­der Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion laws.

‘I was fright­ened and iso­lated’

Jo My­att, 42, from Chorley, was di­ag­nosed with in­cur­able sec­ondary breast can­cer in Au­gust 2016, 10 years af­ter pri­mary breast can­cer, and af­ter many years of clear mam­mo­grams.

She was told that the can­cer had spread to her liver and bones.

“Fol­low­ing my di­ag­no­sis, in the space of a 20-minute con­sul­ta­tion, I felt I lost my iden­tity and my fu­ture with those I love.

“Sup­port fol­low­ing my di­ag­no­sis was nonex­is­tent. There were no spe­cial­ist or sec­ondary breast care nurses. I was told by a GP on a Fri­day evening and sent home with my hus­band with a lack of knowl­edge and lack of a plan.

“I was left com­pletely in the dark, fright­ened, iso­lated and dev­as­tated.”

Jo had to change hos­pi­tals in order to get a spe­cial­ist nurse last year, who now sup­ports her ‘phys­i­cally and emo­tion­ally’ and she is now cam­paign­ing for more nurses to be avail­able to those with in­cur­able can­cer. “Now I can just email my nurse about treat­ment and side ef­fects. It’s so stress­ful try­ing to keep track of all the dif­fer­ent treat­ments and ap­point­ments, and the nurse helps me co-or­di­nate it all.”

There are an es­ti­mated 35,000 peo­ple with sec­ondary breast can­cer (also known as metastatic, ad­vanced or stage four breast can­cer), and each year around 11,500 die from the dis­ease.

A few will have a ded­i­cated nurse, while oth­ers will have a nurse who splits their time be­tween pri­mary and sec­ondary breast can­cer pa­tients. Life ex­pectancy for sec­ondary breast can­cer pa­tients varies, but, as treat­ments have im­proved, more peo­ple are liv­ing longer af­ter a di­ag­no­sis, mak­ing spe­cial­ist care even more es­sen­tial. Al Qadhi said: “Peo­ple liv­ing with in­cur­able breast can­cer tell us that ac­cess to a spe­cial­ist nurse is the sin­gle most im­por­tant as­pect of their care and with­out it they feel iso­lated, for­got­ten and in­vis­i­ble.

“So to­day’s fail­ings must not be swept un­der the car­pet. We are call­ing on the govern­ment to cre­ate a sec­ondary sup­port pack­age for in­cur­able breast can­cer.”

An NHS spokesper­son said: “Ev­ery­one with can­cer is unique and pa­tients them­selves say their ex­pe­ri­ence of be­ing looked af­ter is get­ting bet­ter ev­ery year — which makes sense as your chance of sur­viv­ing can­cer is now at its high­est ever.”

Pub­lished by lin­dynews.org

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Iran

© PressReader. All rights reserved.