"Breakthrough is a charity dedicated to the prevention, treatment and ultimate eradication of breast cancer; October is Breast Cancer Awarement Month and Breakthrough organised a drop in at Westminater, where MPs could meet constituents who support the campaign."
"I met Dr Su Teare, who told me of the high quality service which many constituents receive, with prompt diagnosis and treatment. We discussed lymphoedema - which is a long term swelling caused by the build up of excess fluid in tissues, which can follow a mastectomy. It can be treated, so long as there are nurses available with the appropriate skills. Some local hospitals are good about treating lymphoedema, but others don't provide the service, which can have a real impact on quality of life."
"I promised that I would write to the NHS Hampshire, to make sure that everybody who develops lymphoedema after breast cancer treatment gets the care that they need."
Sir George said he thought the idea of a drop-in where MPs could meet constituents at Westminster was an excellent idea, and he learnt a lot from talking to Dr Teare, and from the briefing information that he was given.
Below is the Breakthrough Press Release
Local Breakthrough Breast Cancer advocate Su Teare campaigned for the Government to keep its promise that by 1st January 2010 all women with possible breast cancer symptoms see a specialist within two weeks, when she met Sir George Young MP at the charity’s annual lobbying event, the Westminster Fly-In.
Currently only women referred by their GP as urgent are guaranteed to see a specialist within two weeks. However many women are referred as non-urgent - or routine – and as a result can face an anxious wait of many weeks to find out whether they have breast cancer or not. Studies have also shown that a significant number of women originally referred as routine are eventually diagnosed with breast cancer, demonstrating the importance of a two week wait for all.
Speaking in her role as a Breakthrough Campaigns & Advocacy Network member Breakthrough CAN) Su Teare drew her local MP’s attention to Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s commitment of a two week wait for all women referred by their GP. She pointed out that many of NHS Trusts are currently not achieving this standard and with the deadline fast approaching, Su Teare is keen to make sure progress is being made locally.
The Department of Health publish breast cancer waiting times for urgent referrals every quarter. However, figures for routine referrals are currently not published. Without knowing these figures it is difficult for Breakthrough Breast Cancer and its network of campaigners to assess whether the NHS is on track to meet this target.
Su Teare explains: “Waiting for a breast cancer diagnosis, whatever the outcome, can be extremely distressing and while it is great news that nearly all women referred as urgent by their GP to a breast specialist are seen within two weeks, women who are referred as routine can wait much longer.
“The Government’s deadline is drawing closer. So as well as finding out from my local breast unit what steps they are taking to make the two week wait for all a reality by the 1st January, I’m also taking this opportunity to ask Sir George to write to the Secretary of State for Health and ask that the non-urgent waiting times for breast cancer patients are published. Only then can we be reassured that the Government will fulfil its commitment on time.
Maggie Alexander, Breakthrough’s Director of Policy, Education and Influencing says: “Campaigners like Sir George helped Breakthrough secure the Government’s commitment that both urgent and routine referrals should be seen by a specialist within two weeks. We now want to know how long patients are currently waiting for routine referrals and be reassured that this deadline will be met. We know it’s possible and some hospitals have already achieved this.
“To support healthcare professionals and the NHS, Breakthrough has also worked with the National Cancer Action Team and NHS Improvement to produce a guide for breast units on how they can meet the two-week wait for all patients referred with breast problems.”
At the Westminster Fly-In Breakthrough CAN members also talked to MPs about improving local services for patients affected by lymphoedema. Lymphoedema is an incurable long-term swelling that can affect people after treatment for breast cancer and can be painful and debilitating. Breakthrough CAN members are calling on their local Primary Care Trust to take the steps needed to achieve high-quality services that can minimise the impact of this condition.
Notes to editors:
• A photograph of (insert your name) with (insert MP’s name) is attached/available from Breakthrough Breast Cancer on 020 7025 2432.
• Breakthrough Breast Cancer funds ground-breaking research, campaigns for better services and treatments and raises awareness of breast cancer. Through this work the charity believes passionately that breast cancer can be beaten and the fear of the disease removed for good. Find more information at breakthrough.org.uk
• Breakthrough’s Campaigns & Advocacy Network (Breakthrough CAN) brings together over 1,000 individuals and organisations to campaign for improvements in breast cancer services across the country. The Westminster Fly-In started in 2000 and is Breakthrough Breast Cancer’s annual training and lobbying event to improve breast cancer services and consists of training workshops, learning more about breast cancer issues and meeting other people who have had similar experiences. The workshops cover a wide range of issues and are specially designed to support people new to advocacy as well as helping seasoned advocates to take their campaigns forward. The Fly-In culminates in Breakthrough CAN members meeting with their local MP to discuss working together to improve breast cancer services locally and across the country. This year’s Fly-In took place during Breast Cancer Awareness month on Thursday 22nd October 2009.
For further press information:
Contact Rachel Pilkington on 020 7025 2432 or email firstname.lastname@example.org Out of hours please call 07778 682 001.