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Creating more equitable access to cancer services – Healthwatch Camden

Read the blog from Holly Norman, Interim Programme Director, North Central London Cancer Alliance on what steps they are taking to reduce inequity and improve access to cancer services in Camden and neighbouring boroughs in North Central London.

This year the World Cancer Day theme is closing the gap in cancer care – that means making sure that all sections of the population, regardless of their circumstances, receive timely, high-quality treatment, care, and support.  I am glad to say we are always striving to ensure this is a top priority.  Health inequalities in cancer care are unfortunately very real and in a diverse population like NCL with significant areas of deprivation, we know factors like this influence how early cancer is detected, survival rates, and how well people live with cancer.

We are reviewing each one of our projects in our work programme to ensure that we are designing and delivering them with tackling health inequalities at the forefront of our minds.

Cancer screening plays a significant role in improving the earlier diagnosis of cancer. In Camden and other north London boroughs, there is a lower-than-average uptake of cervical screening and this is worrying for us. This test is important for picking up changes in the cervix cells, which could become cancerous if left unchecked. Last year we ran the YouScreen Study which is assessing whether offering a self-sampling kit will improve the number of people who get screened regularly.

Later this month there will be a London-wide cervical screening campaign, aimed at encouraging younger women, Black and Asian women, and trans and non-binary people to attend their screening appointments. Look out for the advertising on the streets and on social media.

We are also developing a cancer care registry with Cerner, the organisation that provides our digital services. The registry is essentially a digital database that helps clinicians in north-central London support patients by bringing together important information about the quality of cancer care they are receiving. It will include data about care planning and treatment, details about patients’ broader health issues. It will also show where patients are waiting for important aspects of their care, such as assessments to spot whether they need additional support with their mental health. The information will help GPs and other primary care services see how the care provided supports all local cancer patients.

Whether you are living with cancer or want to know more about symptoms to be aware of, we hope you find the information in this special e-bulletin helpful. We are grateful to Healthwatch Camden for keeping cancer on the health agenda for the borough’s residents.

For more information about cancer symptoms and cancer screening visit our small c website

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