On Wednesday 20 January we held our first parliamentary event of the year – a joint policy roundtable with Anthony Nolan. The event was a chance to bring together MPs, NHS professionals and patients, alongside representatives from both charities, to discuss quality of care for blood cancer patients and in particular, the post treatment needs of patients living with and beyond blood cancer.
The roundtable discussion was a great opportunity to raise awareness of blood cancer among MPs as they heard about the experiences of medical practitioners working in haematology, along with the work both Bloodwise and Anthony Nolan are doing to address patient need. Attendees also had the chance to hear from Paul Carless, a Bloodwise patient ambassador, who eloquently described his personal experience of living with chronic myeloid leukaemia. Paul also took the opportunity to emphasise how important it is that the term blood cancer is used collectively to give all 137 conditions one identity and help increase national awareness and support.
Speaking about his experience of the event, Paul said: “Once we started our discussions I quickly realised that despite the grandeur of the Palace of Westminster and the influential people around the table, there was a common goal and the goal was to improve the care and quality of life of blood cancer patients. As well as the MPs around the table, the healthcare professionals and representatives of Bloodwise and Anthony Nolan once again reassured me that we patients have the very best people championing our cause. It's so much more than a job to them and that came across very clearly. How many of us can truly same the same about our own line of work?
MPs more often than not are vilified in the media and branded out of touch with ordinary people, but I forgot they were MPs and saw them as ordinary people who wanted to make a difference. Hearing their stories, perhaps they weren't so ordinary. They had sons, husbands, nephews and other family members who have had and still have blood cancer or were on the journey post stem cell transplant. They know what our families go through because they've been there themselves.
I hope there are more working groups like this and I look forward to seeing our discussions translated into actions and policy.”
We were pleased that as a result of the discussion there was a consensus around the need for blood cancer to be better represented both as a sector and a term; for there to be more co-ordination between the NHS and charities on the patient pathway; and recognition of how vital specialised support is for blood cancer patients.
Going forward we hope to build on the success of this event and will be calling on MPs to represent the voices of blood cancer patients in Parliament and hold the Government to account on the implementation of the cancer strategy.
It was great to work closely with Anthony Nolan on this event and in the future we hope to continue to work alongside them and others in the blood cancer sector to ensure the specific needs of blood cancer patients are recognised and addressed.
To find out more about the topics that were discussed at the event, please take a look at this joint briefing we produced with Anthony Nolan.