With December in full swing, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Our advent calendars are open, there’s tinsel up in the Macmillan office and Christmas songs on the radio.
But while we’re all busy looking ahead to the festive season and what’s in store for next year, we’ve taken some time to reflect on 2015 and share our highlights from the last 12 months.
Cancer Strategy 2015
The opportunity to influence a national cancer strategy doesn’t come around every year, so we were thrilled when NHS England announced the creation of a new independent Cancer Taskforce to address cancer care over the next five years.
Its report, Achieving World Class Cancer Outcomes: A Strategy for England 2015-2020, was published in July and showed real ambition and focus. Macmillan sat on the Taskforce and, together with many other members of the cancer community, helped to agree on an ambitious plan for world class cancer care. Crucially it acknowledges that the job of the NHS isn’t just to treat the disease but also to enable people to live healthy, fulfilling and productive lives after treatment.
More work is needed to ensure that the recommendations from the strategy can be translated into action, but with this strong blueprint in place we are confident that the next five years will bring positive changes for people with cancer.
The General Election
The 2015 general election seems like a long time ago now, but back when the outcome of May 7th was still uncertain Macmillan was busy campaigning across the political spectrum.
Our aim was to ensure that the interests of people affected by cancer were at the heart of every manifesto. By the time of the election, each main political party had committed to improving the lives of people affected by cancer in their manifestos.
The Conservative Party, who are now tasked with putting their election promises into practice, committed to deliver the new cancer strategy; offer safe and compassionate care where all people are treated with dignity and respect; and support commissioners to combine better health and social care services for the terminally ill so that more people are able to die in a place of their choice.
We look forward to holding government to account for the delivery of these promises over the course of this parliament, and helping MPs to continue to push for progress to improve cancer care.
Nationwide – Specialist Support Service
Macmillan have sought to address the financial implications of cancer for a long time, as we recognise that for some people affected money can be a big cause of concern. In 2014 we published a policy report aimed at the banking industry called Counting on Your Support, which set out 9 key recommendations for how they could improve the service they provide to people affected by cancer. But we didn’t want to just show people how they could improve, we wanted to help ensure that these recommendations were put into practice. So this year teams across Macmillan, including Policy, have worked with Nationwide to do just that. The result is the Nationwide Specialist Support Service –which provides a bespoke case managed service for Nationwide customers affected by cancer, to help them manage their financial affairs based on their individual needs, ranging from immediate requests for support to the longer-term management of financial difficulties.
The Benefits System
As well as working with banking providers, Macmillan has also campaigned to ensure people with cancer get the support they need from the benefits system.
We’ve long been calling on the Government to reduce waiting times for the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) – a benefit many people with cancer rely on. In January 2015 the Government heeded Macmillan’s calls to publish waiting times for the benefit – something they had previously refused to do – and in June published figures showing waiting times had been reduced to 11 weeks.
This represents significant progress from the situation in summer 2014, when waiting times where as high as 40 weeks – a huge delay which had a devastating impact on many people affected by cancer. We continued to influence on welfare throughout the rest of 2015 and it is also an area of focus for 2016. You can find out more, and sign up to support our campaign, here.
Later this week we’ll be posting our wish list for 2016, and in particular what we will be focusing on over the next year – so look back soon for more details on our future priorities!