Cancer charities call for carers to have legal right to support
Thirteen cancer charities in the UK have called for an amendment to be written into the government’s Care Bill, to create a new legal duty for the NHS to ensure that carers get the help they need.
The chief executives of these charities have warned that without the new rights to extra help millions of cancer carers could “buckle under the strain”.
According to the amendment, the NHS would need to identify carers when treating patients and ensure they are referred to the relevant person.
Commenting on the amendment, Ciarán Devane, of signatory Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “If this does not happen, they will buckle under the strain of caring which may affect the well-being of patients, put a burden on services and be costly to the NHS in the long-term.”
Figures show England alone has nearly a million cancer carers, who provide over 50 hours a week of unpaid care which includes administering medicine, domestic work and emotional support.
However, many of these carers are unaware of the specialist support such as training, respite care and financial help that is already available to them. Research revealed only one in 20 carers has a formal assessment with their local council which would enable them to gain access to extra support.
Norman Lamb, the care minister, said: “Carers make a huge contribution to society and we want to do all we can to support them. The government agrees that there needs to be better joint working and proposals already in the Care Bill will mean that local authorities will have to cooperate and work closely with the NHS to identify and support carers.”