Newcastle MP backs campaign for better post-transplant care

Catherine McKinnell, MP for Newcastle North, has added her support to the Who Cares? campaign by the blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan, calling for better care for people recovering from a stem cell transplant.

Attending an event in Parliament in support of several constituents who’d contacted her, Catherine heard that despite stem cell transplant patients often being known as ‘patients for life’ due to the long-term side effects of the treatment, many are not receiving adequate support for the physical, practical and psychological challenges they experience during recovery. According to research by Anthony Nolan, one in five are not offered any specialist care to help with their recovery, which includes access to physiotherapists, counsellors, and fertility experts.

Anthony Nolan is therefore calling on health commissioners across the UK to urgently review the care arrangements they have in place for transplant recipients once they leave hospital, to ensure that patients and their families can continue to access vital support and services. National commissioners pay for any treatment needed by patients for the first 100 days after transplant. After this point, responsibility for funding services passes to local commissioners – in England, the patients’ local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). However, a Freedom of Information request by Anthony Nolan found that at present, fewer than one in ten (9%) CCGs have specific arrangements in place.

Around 2,000 people in the UK need a stem cell transplant from a stranger each year. At the recent event in the House of Commons, Catherine heard from patient representatives about how difficult recovery can be without the appropriate support.

Catherine said:

‘A number of constituents have been in touch with me to raise their concerns on this issue, so I know how important it is for people in Newcastle North that stem cell transplant patients and their families receive appropriate support. No patient’s recovery should be made more difficult by a lack of care and support, and that’s why I’m backing Anthony Nolan’s campaign, urging health commissioners to review the care arrangements they have in place once transplant patients leave hospital.

I’ve also contacted the Health Secretary about the need to review the commissioning of post-transplant services nationally.’

Henny Braund, Chief Executive of Anthony Nolan, said:

‘It’s vital that health commissioners carry out an urgent review into the long-term care that stem cell transplant recipients need throughout their recovery, so we’re delighted to have the support of Catherine in raising awareness of this issue in Parliament and in her constituency.

‘Anthony Nolan is calling on health commissioners to work with us and the clinical community and make sure that post-transplant care works for every patient, to ensure they get the support they need to make a good recovery.’