CANCER services in Sheffield need to undergo ‘innovative change’ as more people survive the disease for longer, a top charity manager has said.
Sandra Clarkson, Macmillan Cancer Care development manager for Sheffield, has called for fresh thinking to deal with a growing number of people with cancer, many of them elderly. Experts at Macmillan estimate the number of older people living with cancer will more than treble by 2040.
Ms Clarkson said: “We can’t continue doing what we are doing. We need to start preparing for the future. Needs are changing. Treatments are better and people are living longer. Cancer is becoming more of a ‘chronic’ disease than an ‘acute’ disease. Forty years ago the overall average survival was one year. Now it’s more like six years.
“By 2040 there will be more than four million people across the country living with cancer. We have more people to support, but we are in a tough economic climate, so we need to look at doing things in a different way.”
She praised the standard of clinical care for cancer in Sheffield - which has today been voted among the best in the country – but said there was a risk people would ‘fall down the gaps’ as NHS reforms and budget squeezes begin to hit home.
“We need to make sure the services are there as we change, so people don’t all down the gaps,” she said. “We can’t go from A to B without some form of investment in between.”
Ms Clarkson said Macmillan has already started investing in community care, so cancer survivors are helped to re-integrate after undergoing treatment.
The charity has also funded a late-effects consultant nurse at Weston Park cancer hospital, to help treat side-effects of treatment long after patients have been given the all-clear. And it is working with St Luke’s Hospice to develop end-of-life services.
The development manager, who started working in Sheffield last year, was full of praise for the way health services were taking up the challenge.
“I’ve been really impressed,” she said. “The people working in healthcare in this city are really looking to change things and do things differently. They aren’t just trying to stop things and cut back on services, which often happens in times of difficulty.”
n The Star is backing Macmillan’s World Biggest Coffee Morning, to be held on September 28.