By Royle Appointment

Writer and comedienne Caroline Aherne is to appeal to Manchester cancer patients and carers to get involved with a programme to improve cancer care in the city when she speaks at its launch on June 26.

Image: Caroline Aherne Royle Family and Mrs Merton creator, Caroline, who is recovering from treatment for lung cancer in Manchester and has in the past been treated for bladder and eye cancer, is to speak at the launch of the Macmillan Cancer Improvement Partnership in Manchester (MCIP) at Manchester Town Hall alongside Wendy Makin, Deputy Clinical Director at The Christie; and Ciaran Devane, Chief Executive of Macmillan Cancer Support.

The £3.45 million MCIP is a partnership of all cancer care providers in Manchester – Macmillan Cancer Support, the three Manchester Clinical Commissioning Groups, people affected by cancer, GPs, NHS Hospital Trusts, St Ann’s Hospice and Manchester City Council. Its aim is to improve the experience of everybody affected by the disease at every stage of the cancer journey.

Caroline said: “It’s brilliant that all these big institutions want to make cancer care better for Manchester people, but even the best doctors, nurses and managers on earth aren’t going to be able to understand what needs improving unless people affected by cancer in Manchester get involved and tell them what needs to change.

“We’re lucky in Manchester to have some of the best bits of cancer care with places like The Christie, The Nightingale Centre and The Cecelia Centre at Wythenshawe Hospital and St Ann’s Hospice – and the last thing I want to do is knock the fantastic work that goes on in this city.

“But the reason why MCIP has been formed is because all the partners recognise that the whole cancer care system is fragmented meaning that people do fall through the cracks. They’ve asked me to get involved and I’m really glad that I can do my bit to encourage Manchester people to speak up about where things do go wrong with cancer care.

“It’s truly shocking to learn that Manchester came bottom out of 150 areas in England for premature deaths from cancer.  Our survival rates are 25% lower than average and the number of people getting lung cancer is a third higher here than in the rest of England.

“There are too many stories about bad communication leading to patients waiting too long and feeling ignored and abandoned – and that same bad communication is contributing to our poor statistics on cancer.

“I’ve had cancer and my brother’s had cancer and we know how it affects people. The MCIP needs people like us to start explaining to all the institutions what needs changing so that these big complex organisations can get together to make the improvements.”

There’s a range of ways that people can help, including attending meetings and workshops where they’ll work together with clinicians and MCIP partners; or sharing their experiences through newsletters and the media; or encouraging others to get involved by word-of-mouth.

Caroline will be speaking ahead of a panel discussion involving cancer patients Helen O’Neill and Derek Edwards; Caroline Kurzeja, South Manchester Clinical Commissioning Group Chief Officer; Wendy Makin, Deputy Clinical Director, The Christie NHS Foundation Trust; and Ciaran Devane, Chief Executive, Macmillan Cancer Support.

Nicola Cook of Macmillan Cancer Support said: “We’re delighted that Caroline is supporting MCIP. We know that its success hinges on the involvement of people affected by cancer in Manchester.

“Caroline’s one of Manchester’s own – she’s loved here and people identify with her. We hope that if people see that Caroline is sitting down and talking to us then maybe they’ll know that they can too. Our MCIP partnership needs to listen to people.”

If you would like to get involved with the Macmillan Cancer Improvement Partnership in Manchester, please contact talkinghealthmanchester@nhs.net or call 0161 765 4558.