On Monday morning, Macmillan Cancer Support, Versus Arthritis and the Royal College of Surgeons of England held a roundtable discussion to hear from people with lived experiences about the impact the COVID-19 pandemic and delays to receiving treatment has had on their lives, and to discuss how we can ensure that access to treatment and services can be restored safely.
I had very much hoped to join the virtual roundtable, chaired by my friend and colleague Dr Kieran Mullan MP, to hear directly from Macmillan, Versus and the RCS what their experiences had been, and to feed-in what my own constituents have been telling me over the past several months.
Very unfortunately, due to matters outside my control, I was unable to attend, however my Office Manager Tommy Gilchrist did join on my behalf, and I understand from his feedback that the discussions were lively, patient-centric, and centred around what more we in Government can do alleviate the backlog in surgical services as well as cancer and arthritis services, whilst ensuring patient safety remains paramount.
I had asked Dame Cally Palmer, the Chief Executive of the Royal Marsden, for her thoughts on this important issue prior to the meeting, having met her recently on a visit to learn more about their experiences during lockdown and also take a tour of the children and teenage wards. I was grateful to Dame Cally for being so generous with her time, and have written directly to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care – with a copy to Macmillan, Versus, and the RCS – to put her points to him directly. You can read a copy of this letter below.
I will continue to do everything I can to ensure that my constituents affected by cancer, arthritis, and other serious conditions can access the care that they need, and will report back when I hear from the Health Secretary.
As ever, if you are affected by any of these issues and need my support, please do get in touch.