Carers UK responds to research published today by Macmillan Cancer Support, which suggests that cancer patients are ending up in hospital because their loved ones are not properly trained on vital health tasks.
Emily Holzhausen, Director of Policy and Public Affairs at Carers UK, said:
“In raising awareness of the lack of support carers are getting to perform vital health tasks for their loved ones with cancer, Macmillan’s research highlights a far wider and deeper issue for carers who support loved ones across many conditions.
“If you multiplied these figures across dementia, MS, MND and mental illness – to name but a few – the scale of the issue is vast. Families are expected to do nursing and other caring tasks with little or no training. Not only does this result in extra costs for the NHS, which it can ill-afford, but the personal costs in terms of distress, physical strain and injury for carers are significant. The hidden costs of this issue are enormous.
“One in five carers told us that they felt their caring role was ignored and not recognised by health professionals*. This is a reality that simply has to change – with more people than ever before living longer with disabilities and long-term illnesses, health professionals must be more consistent in seeing patients and their families as partners in care.
“Families will be dismayed that the draft NHS Mandate, which sets the Government’s priorities for the NHS, currently has no mention of carers. Recognition of carers must run through the whole NHS, from senior management to frontline services.
“The Government has a golden opportunity with the Cross-Government Carers Strategy and the forthcoming Spending Review to invest in proving vital information, training and support for carers. This needs to be underpinned by a culture change throughout the NHS which starts to value the input of family members, seeing them as experts in their loved ones’ care.”