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More Than Four in Ten Cancer Carers Not Being Given Adequate Training

More than four in ten cancer carers are not being given sufficient medical training according to new research by Macmillan Cancer Support.

Figures from a You Gov survey of over 2,000 cancer carers reveal that more than 45 per cent are not being properly trained in performing essential healthcare tasks such as infection control, changing dressings and giving medication.

Other findings reveal that when families and friends receive training on how to look after their loved ones with cancer, they are typically only given 20 minutes or less of training with health or social care professionals.

Alarmingly, around 33,000 cancer carers who perform healthcare tasks for their loved ones say those they are looking after have had to attend hospital specifically because of their lack of training.

Apart from clinical care, cancer carers also provide vital practical and emotional support to those they look after. This can include feeding, washing and dressing patients or simply being there to talk or do the shopping.

According to Macmillan, too many of the 1.1 million cancer carers in the UK are not being provided with the support they need to do their jobs properly, despite the introduction of the new Care Act more than six months ago.

Many carers report being excluded from discussions between their loved ones and healthcare professionals and when attending hospital appointments, being ignored, overlooked or in some cases, even being asked to stand outside the room against their wishes.

Carers do not always associate with the term ‘carer,’ instead, they merely see themselves as people looking after their loved ones. This means they can often suffer in silence leaving healthcare professionals having no idea that they are struggling or needing essential training and support.

Juliet Bouverie, Director of Services and Influencing at Macmillan Cancer Support, said, “It is unfair to put carers in a situation where they are left alone not knowing how to carry out caring tasks or manage the side effects of treatment if something goes wrong.

“Without support, cancer carers can accidently put their loved one’s health at risk. We would never expect nurses or other professionals to do these tasks without training so why are we leaving friends and family in this vulnerable situation?”

Cancer carers not only perform essential healthcare tasks for their loved ones but they also provide crucial emotional support and practical help. If, however, they are not being given the right support that they need they could potentially be endangering the health of their patients or left not knowing what to do in the event they are required to carry out specific healthcare tasks that they haven’t been trained to perform.

Nisha Sharma is a senior clinical negligence solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in London.

If you or a member of your family suffered from negligent treatment in hospital, call our medical negligence solicitors for a free consultation on freephone 0800 916 9049 or contact us online.

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