Terminal breast cancer patients rely on NHS trusts in nursing shortages

Terminal breast cancer patients rely on NHS trusts in nursing shortages

Thousands of terminal breast cancer patients are "left" after being denied access to a specialized nurse, warns the aid organization, Breast Cancer Care.

Almost three-quarters (72%) of NHS trusts across the UK do not provide committed nurses, according to figures released with the International Day of Awareness for the disease.

The charity said that in the two years since they last dealt with the issue, it only had 7% growth in the trusts.

This comes despite the government's cancer strategies, which promise three years ago that all cancer patients will have access to a particular nurse by 2020.

Samia al Qadhi, Chief Executive of Breast Cancer Care, said, "Our amazing results show how much NHS care is stagnating for people with incurable breast cancer.

"With this life-changing and life-limiting diagnosis, patients will continue to be left without the on-going technical support they need to cope with complex treatments and debilitating side effects such as chronic pain and fatigue.

"People living with incurable breast cancer tell us that access to a specialized nurse is the most important aspect of their care, and without them, they feel isolated, forgotten and invisible.

"The mistakes of today should not be swept under the carpet."

Ms. Al Qadhi called on the government to provide funding to ensure that everyone has access to the necessary technical support when they need it.

"I never want anyone to feel the isolation I felt after the diagnosis."

I never want anyone to feel the isolation I felt after the diagnosis
Jo Myatt

Jo Myatt was diagnosed with incurable secondary breast cancer in August 2016.

The 42-year-old Chorley social worker was diagnosed with primary breast cancer 10 years earlier.

After years of clear mammography, she was told that the cancer had spread to her liver and bones.

"After my diagnosis, during a 20-minute consultation, I felt that I had lost my identity and my future with those I love," said Ms. Myatt.

"Assistance after my diagnosis was non-existent, there were no specialized or secondary breast care nurses.

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Jo Myatt (center) with her parents (Breast Cancer Care / PA)

"I was told by a family doctor on a Friday night and sent home with my husband because I lacked the knowledge and the plan.

"I was totally in the dark, scared, isolated and devastated."

After changing clinic Ms. Myatt was able to access a specialized breast cancer nurse, who supported her "emotionally and physically".

She is now working to ensure that every patient has access to a specialist nurse from the time of diagnosis and that he has the opportunity to talk to someone with secondary breast cancer.

"I never want anyone to feel the isolation I felt after the diagnosis."

The charity also found that 40% of trusts could not say how many breast cancer patients they currently care for.

More than 70% do not assess people's emotional and physical needs at diagnosis and throughout their treatment, as the numbers show.

And 80% do not give all patients a summary at the end of each treatment, including how they respond, said the charity.

There are an estimated 35,000 people with secondary breast cancer in the UK, and about 11,500 people die each year.

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