We know that healthy choices are easier to make when supported by politicians with the insight to develop effective public policies. Since our earliest days we have worked with politicians and decision-makers to develop legislation that helps us look after our own health.
Our campaigning work includes:
- Our new cancer manifesto for NI
At the launch of our Manifesto (February 2017) we called on the Executive to create a fresh vision for cancer and end the complacency that accepts poorer outcomes for local people.
Our Chief Executive Roisin Foster warned that cancer outcomes in Northern Ireland are on a par with those in some eastern European countries for certain cancers.
“Our manifesto asks all of our political parties to consider what needs to be done to reduce the risk of cancer in our population and to ensure that those of us who are diagnosed with cancer have the best possible outcomes.
“What we lack in NI is a well communicated and shared ambitious vision for cancer – from prevention to detection to treatment and rehabilitation. A vision that just won’t rest until our cancer levels are among the lowest in the world and our cancer outcomes the best in the world.
“We are asking our political parties to give a commitment to ensure that in the next administration they too will not rest until we have that shared vision, with clear goals that are measured and met, backed up with sustained funding.”
Click here for the full Manifesto.
Read cancer patient Tracy Martin’s poignant speech to MLAs here.
- Equal access to cancer drugs campaign
Cancer Focus Northern Ireland launched a three month campaign in June 2014 calling for Equal Access to life-extending cancer drugs for patients in Northern Ireland. Currently there are approximately 40 cancer drugs that are available to patients in England, but not readily available to patients in Northern Ireland.
The campaign, launched in partnership with the Daily Mirror and with the support of 14 local charities, initially aimed to secure 10,000 pledges of support to be presented to the then Health Minister Edwin Poots by Autumn 2014, but after reaching that number in only 11 days, we doubled the number of pledges. The final number of pledges – 26,000 (20,000 online and 6,000 postcards) – was presented to Health Minister Jim Wells on 7th October.
At the end of September Mr Wells announced the set-up of an evaluative panel looking into the efficacy of the Individual Funding Review (IFR) – the current drug approval system in NI.
Cancer Focus NI met with the evaluative panel on 12th Nov and presented a written brief outlining our concerns with the current process and highlighting the objectives of the Equal Access campaign. We have also contributed to the Health Committee’s evidence session with the DHSSPS and ABPI to further investigate the lack of access to cancer drugs in NI.
An evaluation of the existing IFR system was commissioned by then Health Minister Jim Wells in 2015. The outcome was that the current drugs approval system was deemed not fit for purpose and five recommendations were made outlining ways to improve access to drugs that are not routinely available. The Department of Health held a three month public consultation seeking public opinion on the listed recommendations. Find out more about the Minister’s recommendations here. You can read Cancer Focus NI’s submission to the IFR Evaluation here.
On 12 September 2018, the Department of Health announced that cancer patients in Northern Ireland are to have the same access to drugs currently being offered to patients in the rest of the UK. This means local patients can now apply for new medicines which could extend life or in some cases radically improve the quality of life, that they were previously denied access to mainly due to cost.
- NI Assembly All Party MLA Group on Cancer
It is vital that our politicians make effective decisions about cancer treatment and new policies targeted at the prevention of cancer. The All Party MLA Group on Cancer (APGC) meets to hear important information on areas of significance in relation to cancer and its effect on our local population.
Cancer Focus NI provides the secretariat for the APGC arranging meetings, speakers and disseminating Briefing Notes and minutes to members to ensure that all are equally informed.
Members may take action resulting from APGC meetings including tabling questions for discussion at Assembly meetings.
The APGC has heard from a range of patients, clinicians, researchers and policy developers from the voluntary, statutory and public sectors who have engaged with MLAs to drive forward the agenda on cancer on many fronts.
The full presentations can be accessed below:
- APGC Report (2014)
- Access to Cancer Drugs in Northern Ireland
- Malignant Melanoma in Northern Ireland
- Cancer Care in Northern Ireland A Decade of Change
- Cancer Control in Europe
- The Case for Plain Packaging of Tobacco Products
- Fit and Well Changing Lives
- Making all the Difference Men and Cancer
- What Next for Alcohol Policy NI
- Cancer Patients and Welfare Reform
- Investigating the Actual and Potential Role of the GP in the Prevention of Cancer
- Action on Smoking and Health (ASH NI)
While smoking rates have fallen in recent years we still need organisations to work together to tackle the current tobacco epidemic. We provide the secretariat for ASH (Action on Smoking and Health) Northern Ireland, which is a multi-agency committee working with the other ASH UK groups to achieve strong tobacco control strategies.
- No Smoking Day
No Smoking Day is an annual campaign focusing on one dedicated day to encourage smokers to make a quit attempt. No Smoking Day falls in March each year but briefing days for health professional are held in the November preceding.
The NI Coordinating Committee drives the national campaign at a local level making it the most successful out of all regions.
Cancer Focus NI works in partnership with the campaign lead organisation, British Heart Foundation, and partners the Public Health Agency, Health Trusts and Environmental Health.
- European Cancer Leagues
The European Cancer Leagues is a pan-European alliance of cancer charities with a common goal of improving the outlook of cancer control across Europe. Cancer Focus NI is a member and our Chief Executive, Roisin Foster, is a Board member.
Through our membership we contribute to the sharing of best practice across Europe and beyond.
- Skin Cancer Prevention Strategy
To address this concern, as part of our public affairs work, we partner the Public Health Agency to co-chair the Skin Cancer Prevention Strategy Implementation Group. Annually we raise awareness of critical issues such as taking care in the sun at home as well as abroad and the dangers of sunbed use.
If you want to find out more about our campaigning activities contact Louise on firstname.lastname@example.org or 028 9066 3281.