Cancer: Carers

Department of Health written question – answered on 26th February 2016.

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Photo of Corri Wilson Corri Wilson Scottish National Party, Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what assessment his Department has made of the financial implications of caring for people with cancer and their families.

Photo of Alistair Burt Alistair Burt The Minister of State, Department of Health

The Government recognises the invaluable contribution made by unpaid carers and the importance of supporting them in their caring roles. We are also aware that caring for people with cancer and other illnesses or disabilities can have significant financial implications both for those involved and wider society, for example, the Government, Carers UK and business representatives worked together to produce the Supporting Working Carers report of 2013, which estimated the costs to the exchequer of carers being unable to continue working at £1.3 billion a year.

That is why we continue to support implementation of the improved rights for carers that were enshrined in The Care Act 2014. On the appearance of needs for support, carers have a right to an assessment that will look at a carer’s wellbeing and what support they may need in their caring role. The Department has provided £104 million of funding to local authorities for these rights in 2015/16.

We also made an additional £400 million available to the National Health Service between 2011 and 2015 to provide carers with breaks from their caring responsibilities to sustain them in their caring role. The Better Care Fund includes £130 million of funding for carers’ breaks in 2015/16.

In 2015 the Government extended to carers a right to request flexible working arrangements, and this helps those carers who wish to balance work and care. We are also funding a £1.6 million pilot project to explore how technology can be combined with professional support from the local authority and the assistance of informal networks to ease the pressure of caring.

The Department is also leading the development of a new cross-Government National Carers Strategy that will look at what more we can do to support existing carers and future carers.

We are also aware that the right support for the person they care for is crucial to improving outcomes for carers. The Independent Cancer Taskforce published its report, Achieving World-Class Cancer Outcomes, in July 2015. It recommended improvements across the cancer pathway, including on patient experience, support, and quality of life. NHS England is currently working with partners across the health system to determine how best to take forward these recommendations.

As part of our approach to support people living with and beyond cancer, we announced in September 2015 that, by 2020, the 280,000 people diagnosed with cancer every year will benefit from a tailored recovery package. These recovery packages, developed in partnership with Macmillan Cancer Support, will be individually designed to help each person live well beyond cancer, including elements such as physical activity programmes, psychological support and practical advice about returning to work.

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