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The role of cancer charities

As a health service, we provide a wide range of treatments and care for people with cancer…but we can’t do this alone.

In order to give our patients the best all round care, we’ve forged strong partnerships not only with local authorities, but – just as importantly - with a wide range of charities and voluntary agencies as well.

They play a vital role in helping us ensure the people in our care receive the best treatments, the best support and the best advice that we can offer.

Not only do charities and voluntary agencies raise amazing amounts of money to enable us to expand and improve on the services we provide, but they also provide hospice places for terminally ill patients, money for research and education, patient support and advice, luxury goods for patients and other bits and pieces.

In Scotland, some cancer charities and voluntary organisations have come together under the title of the Scottish Cancer Coalition.

A partnership of 19 organisations, the coalition aims to ensure the needs of people living with cancer are met. They do this by working together to influence change in cancer service provision as well as continuing to provide and develop the support they provide.

Members of the coalition include:

  • Bowel Cancer UK
  • Breast Cancer Care Scotland
  • Cancerbackup
  • Cancer Research UK
  • Cancer Support Scotland (Tak Tent)
  • CLIC Sargent
  • Leukaemia Care
  • Macmillan Cancer Support
  • Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centres
  • Marie Curie Cancer Care
  • Myeloma UK
  • Ochre
  • The Prostate Cancer Charity
  • The Roy Castle Lung Foundation
    Scottish Association of Prostate Cancer Support Groups
  • Scottish Cancer Foundation
  • The Teenage Cancer Trust

These are not the only charities, trusts and voluntary organisations that provide services and/or funds. Others include:

  • Hospices such as Accord and The Prince and Princess of Wales Hospice
  • The Friends of the Beatson
  • Trades House of Glasgow
  • The Shaw Melanoma Charitable Trust
  • The Robertson Trust

Partnership

Stuart Danskin, Senior Cancer Information Nurse Specialist with Cancerbackup, a charity that provides patients with a wide range of information and advice on cancer, said: “Charities and voluntary organisations provide the parts of the service that aren’t fully supported anywhere else, be that additional funding for research, information and advice or hospice support.

“We work in partnership with the NHS and augment the services that it provides. We are another resource they can send patients to.”

Cancerbackup was started 22 years ago by Dr Vicky Clement-Jones who, when diagnosed with cancer herself, found it difficult to find information on her condition. Realising there was a gap in service provision, she set up the charity to provide information on a wide range of issues affecting cancer patients.

Now the charity publishes 80 booklets on a wide range of different cancers affecting both children and adults. There’s also information on the emotional effect of the illness and lifestyle issues such as obtaining travel and life insurance. Around 500,000 booklets are sent out UK-wide every year.

Cancerbackup’s cancer information nurse specialists also deal with 40,000 phonecalls from cancer patients, carers and friends per year. Around 500,000 users visit the website and they receive around 5,000 email inquiries.

Stuart said: “We receive a lot of calls from people with cancer, family members and friends. We’re a resource for anyone touched by cancer.

“Many people who contact us don’t know the questions they need to ask their doctors. Sometimes they come to us, tell us their story and from there we can work out what they need by exploring the different issues with them. We know a lot about cancer, but we don’t bombard them with information they haven’t asked for.

“Every call and query is dealt with completely confidentially. We won’t pass on any information to your doctor, family members or friends.”

Another service Cancerbackup provides is pointing callers in the direction of other services…NHS, voluntary sector, local authority or other charities.

As Stuart explained: “Often people don’t know that they can access certain things, such as a Health Visitor or Social Worker. We can help them by providing information about how they access these services.”

If you would like to contact Cancerbackup: