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Some Wales cancer patients still not allocated key worker

From BBC - May 12, 2017

Some cancer patients in Wales say they have still not been allocated a key worker to co-ordinate their care.

The Welsh Government said in May 2010 health boards should ensure key workers were in place by the end of March 2011.

But a number of cancer patients across the country told BBC Wales they have not been assigned a key worker. One patient, Nick Phillips, said it "takes months to talk to anybody".

A Welsh Government spokesman said services had made "a positive start".

In 2010, the then health minister Edwina Hart said introducing key workers meant cancer patients would know who to contact at all times should the need arise during their treatment.

But Mr Phillips, from Pontypridd, said he had not been assigned a key worker despite being diagnosed with prostate cancer in January 2016.

The 59-year-old, who runs a cancer charity from home, said: "I have not heard of anyone around here who's had a key worker, someone you could phone up, from diagnosis, to get support and information."

Mr Phillips has undergone chemotherapy and radiotherapy, but said his cancer cannot be cured, only controlled, because it has spread.

"Having a key worker would have changed my experience. Rather than me chasing around, that key worker would be able to point me in the right direction and be able to help me. It takes months to talk to anybody," he said.

"Once you have had treatment, you are forgotten about."

Carolyn Robertson, 70, from Whitchurch, in Cardiff, has been diagnosed with three different types of cancer since 2010 and has experienced both sides of the coin.

Mrs Robertson said she was not allocated a key worker for the bowel cancer she was diagnosed with in 2010 nor the skin cancer she was diagnosed with in 2016.

But she said she was given a key worker when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012.

Mrs Robertson said: "I think it's very important because, first of all, it's the comfort of knowing a name and number so you do not have to go through a switchboard and hold on to be put through.

"That person will also have the experience and knowledge to say if you need to come in and be checked.

"With Julie [my breast cancer key worker] it honestly felt out of my hands but being dealt with. It was such a relief."

Comments on the Facebook page One Voice for Wales - Campaign for Equal Access to Cancer Treatments, appear to show the experience of patients varies, even within health boards.

'Desperate community'

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