The NHS is failing to support people who are caring for loved ones with cancer, a charity has warned.
Macmillan Cancer Support said that so-called “cancer carers” are being “overlooked” by the health service. It cautioned that many carers are missing out on much-needed practical, emotional and financial help.
The comments come after a poll of more than 2,000 cancer carers found that many were not signposted to support available for them as a carer.
Almost two-fifths (37%) said that they were not given any information or advice about the services available to them by a health professional.
And of the 558 people who were with their loved one when they were diagnosed with cancer, 43% said the health professional did not give them any advice or point them in the right direction of support.
A spokeswoman said that the “chronic” lack of help might explain why almost half of those questioned said their caring responsibilities had affected their emotional and mental health.
The survey was released by the charity as it called for the Care Bill to be amended so the NHS in England has a responsibility to identify cancer carers.
“Many cancer carers are buckling under the relentless strain of caring because they aren’t getting the support they need,” said Macmillan Cancer Support’s chief executive Ciaran Devane.
“This is despite the fact they provide care worth billions a year,” he said. “Procedures and systems aren’t in place to ensure the NHS routinely identifies cancer carers and signposts them to much-needed practical, emotional and financial help.
“The legal duty, currently just on local authorities to identify carers with unmet needs, must be extended so the NHS has a similar responsibility. This makes much more sense as cancer carers have far more contact with health professionals than their local authority,” he added.
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