Written evidence submitted by Mesothelioma UK (CBP0084)

The mesothelioma community have welcomed and made appropriate use of the ‘COVID-friendly’ cancer treatments, and we are pleased access will be expanded and extended.

As advocates for people living with mesothelioma, we would still like to see a move toward offering treatment to cancer patients in their own homes as opposed to in overstretched often crowded chemotherapy units.

Here are the issues we have considered prior to seeking support for home treatment for people living with mesothelioma.

  1. Demand on NHS cancer services continually increases. The incidence of cancer continues to rise. Anti-cancer treatment options are increasing, as more treatment options are discovered and approved, and we get better at supporting cancer patients on treatment. Many cancer treatment centres have for many years struggled to meet demand; they are simply bursting at the seams.
  2. Post-pandemic it is understandable that Cancer patients will continue to feel vulnerable and relieved to have any option that does not require them to enter a public place, including hospitals.
  3. Mesothelioma patients, with private health insurance or another means to pay, have for many years received their anti-cancer treatment at home through a home care provider safely and comfortably.
  4. Cancer patients receiving their anti-cancer treatment, through a private home care provider, during the pandemic did not have their treatment interrupted. It continued in the safety of their own home.
  5. Post pandemic we are all more accepting and prepared to for virtual working in health care. Disease and treatment surveillance can be, in part, managed using virtual means.
  6. Anti-cancer medication delivered in a person’s own home is not subject to VAT resulting in a cost saving that can be off set toward the cost of delivering the treatment at home.

Mesothelioma UK would like to generate evidence through rigorous research to demonstrate not only the acceptability and safety of receiving anti-cancer treatment at home for people living with mesothelioma but also the potentially neutral cost implications and more importantly how it is preferred by people living with a severely life limiting cancer.  With most people dying within a year of a mesothelioma diagnosis, any approach that means less time out of the home, away from loved ones will likely be preferred by most patients.

If Mesothelioma, an incurable cancer of older patients, were to demonstrate these multiple benefits it could lead to the biggest radical ‘shake up’ of NHS provided anti-cancer treatment in many years. Possibly a cost neutral change that would be welcomed by all and most importantly by patients.

Mesothelioma UK implores the minister to establish an NHS task and finish group to review, assess, trial and report on current Home SACT (Systematic Anti-Cancer Treatment) and the feasibility of expanding it to ensure equitable access across the country particularly for more vulnerable cancer patients with a limited life expectancy.

Sept 2021