Headlines: February 10th, 2010

Thousands of lives could be saved each year by improving cancer care for people in rural areas an event will be told today. Patients living in the countryside have been speaking about how they face long journeys to access treatment as well as the impact of rural life on awareness campaigns and screening services, and today’s meeting will try to find practical ways to improve this.

The patients have been consulted by the Commission for Rural Communities which has been working with Macmillan Cancer Support and the Department of Health to bring together key people in cancer care to develop solutions to the problems facing rural cancer patients. Research by the CRC has indicated that with survival rates in England lagging behind the rest of Europe new ways of working are needed to improve outcomes for people in rural areas.

It has gathered insights from patients, their families and service providers and says these suggest that living in the countryside can affect the quality of cancer care. There are particular problems with running campaigns or providing screening and many patients face the added strain of difficult or costly journeys to hospital. There are also concerns over the provision of care for discharged cancer patients who are remote from health services and who have poor public transport.

Sarah McAdam, the Chief Executive of the Commission for Rural Communities said “Today’s event will provide a unique opportunity for experts to get to grips with the issues and identify practical solutions. By bringing together individuals from different specialisms we hope to break down barriers to improving the quality of care for cancer patients in rural England.”