Memorandum by Teenage Cancer Trust (PC
1 We have concerns that the care for teenagers
and young adults with cancer is inequitable across the UK. TCT
has been developing specialist units for teenagers and young adults
for 15 years and currently eight exist in major cancer centres.
It is anticipated that a further 14 are needed to ensure that
every teenager and young adult has access.
2. Over time we have had many discussions
with the NHS staff who run our Units and the issues relating to
Palliative care are magnified still further with the lack of choice
available to teenagers and young adults. Understandably a preference
for any young person entering a palliative phase would be to receive
a majority of their care and support at home. However, it is common
for us to hear that local primary care teams are not experienced
working with this age group. Subsequently there is often pressure
on the specialist Unit to provide support and advice, even though
the patient may live over 100 miles away. Training and development
of a community skill base for this group is therefore essential.
3. During a terminal phase the choices are
more limited still. There are only one or two hospice facilities
in the UK that have sufficient facilities for teenagers and young
adults. It is therefore not uncommon to find that a young person
unable to die at home chooses to die at the one of our specialist
unit where at least there is an environment geared especially
for them and other young people to relate to. This places an unnecessary
burden on the Unit, blocking beds and denies them the opportunity
of the facilities the hospice might offer.