Lowri Griffiths Policy and Public Affairs Manager for Macmillan in Wales talks about the work Macmillan is doing ahead of the National Assembly elections in May.
2016 is an important year for us here at Macmillan Wales as we wait to hear who will be elected to the next Welsh Assembly and who will form the next Welsh Government after May.
In Wales, 19,000 (WCISU Feb 2015) people are diagnosed with cancer every year and more than 130,000 people are currently living with or beyond cancer.
Keeping cancer high on the political agenda is an important focus for us over the next 12 months. Despite the good news that survival rates are steadily improving and many people recover from cancer, improving survival rates in Wales need to be considered in the context of even better survival rates in many other European countries.
Earlier this year, Macmillan Cancer Support released analysis that showed cancer survival rates in Wales are at or behind a level that many other European countries had already achieved by the late 1990s.
2016 is a time to reflect on changes that have been made to cancer care in Wales since the 2011 Assembly election, and to learn and further improve on elements from the Together for Health Cancer Delivery Plan. Crucially however, it is time to start delivering with pace and consistency to ensure we achieve the best possible outcomes for people in Wales that match the best in Europe.
With over 200 different types of cancer, choosing what should be our key messages to take to the political parties has been a challenge.
The Wales Cancer Patient Experience Survey 2014 (CPES) gave people affected by cancer the opportunity to have their say about the care they have received. There were over 7,500 responses to the survey and it has been pivotal in helping us shape our thinking as it confirmed both positive and negative aspects of cancer care that we had known about anecdotally for many years.
By shaping these messages and further refining with the help of a group pulled together specifically for the purpose of supporting our election work, we were able to develop a number of calls to take to the political parties during 2014.
We started by stating the obvious.
As a cancer community working across Wales, we need solutions which will meet the needs of people as people, not just individuals who now find themselves with a cancer diagnosis. Person Centred Care has become the cornerstone of our calls and will continue to be the theme of our influencing work throughout 2016.
Our final calls which we took to the parties are as follows:
Macmillan wants each political party to prioritise cancer care in its manifesto for the 2016 Welsh Assembly elections and commit to:
- Cancer remaining a top priority in the next Programme of Government, leading to a new cancer strategy that delivers cancer care and treatment and outcomes which matches the best in Europe, no matter where the person lives, their age or what type of cancer they have.
- The cornerstone of this ambition should be embedded in the principle of person- centred care, which ensures every cancer patient receives well co-ordinated holistic care and treatment. This care goes beyond the clinical to also address wider social, financial, emotional, practical, psychological and spiritual concerns. This applies to people receiving active treatment, people living with and beyond cancer and people reaching the end of life.
- Strengthened and transparent national leadership and governance to clearly set out the ambition to deliver on the new integrated cancer strategy.
Please see read our full manifesto to see more detail around our calls.
Our work in developing our calls and talking to the political parties about our key messages is only the beginning of our influencing activity in 2016. We will be talking to candidates from all main political parties in Wales over the coming months and speaking to our supporters across Wales to ensure we are listening to them and using their experiences to support our conversations.
When we wake up on May 6th, we will be clear on our ambitions for the 60 newly and re-elected Assembly Members and a newly formed Government. Exciting times!
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