Tag Archives: Research

Unprecedented demand for cancer helpline

The number of calls from people with cancer facing difficulties at work has shot up over two years — with some employers reported to be breaking the law — a leading cancer charity has revealed.

Macmillan logo

New figures from Macmillan Cancer Support show a 74% increase in calls to its support line on a range of work-related issues such as discrimination and even dismissal, as a result of a cancer diagnosis.

A YouGov poll for the charity reveals that one in five (20%) employees who returned to work after cancer reported facing discriminatory treatment, such as demotion and worryingly more than a fifth (22%) of managers also have concerns about employing someone who has or has had cancer.

Macmillan Cancer Support is now expanding its dedicated Work Support Service helpline to meet rising demand — with the charity receiving nearly 3,000 (2,987) calls about work issues this year alone.

It is also warning bosses they are breaking the law if they don’t provide the necessary support, such as reasonable adjustments, to employees with cancer — which is classed as a disability under the Equality Act.

While most of the 1,500 people polled (87%) who were employed when diagnosed with cancer said it was important to continue working after their diagnosis, employers’ ‘misconceptions’ add to the large number of difficulties already facing the 890,000 people of working age with the disease.

For example, more than a third (34%) of managers worry their employee would not stay long in the job and nearly a tenth (8%) fear someone could use their illness as an excuse not to pull their weight at work.

Around one in eight managers have concerns about the impact of the diagnosis on other staff, with some worried it could cause awkwardness (13%) or resentment (12%) among colleagues.

Sadly, the research also found some workers with cancer did experience a lack of understanding of their needs from their employer (9%) and colleagues (8%). Others even lost their jobs (4%) as a result of their diagnosis.

Former web developer Jordan Taylor, 24, from Telford, Shropshire, was diagnosed with testicular cancer earlier this year and said: “Before I was diagnosed my colleagues felt like a family, but as time went on their attitude towards me completely changed.

“When I returned to work after treatment I was called into a meeting by my boss, who said performance was down in my absence and that companies had complained. There was no time to ease back into my role or any mention of reasonable adjustments to help me during recovery.

“Shortly after my return, I was told my whole team was facing redundancy. A few colleagues insinuated that it was my fault, even though I was ill — it was awful and caused me a huge amount of worry.”

Liz Egan, Working Through Cancer Programme Lead at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “We know how important it is to many people to work during cancer treatment, or return to employment afterwards, and this is entirely possible with the right support. Unfortunately, however, many bosses have misconceptions about employees with a cancer diagnosis.

“The rise in calls we have experienced to our helpline is staggering and shows just how vital it is that people with cancer have support and advice with their choices around work. We want to be able to support everyone living with cancer who needs us and are reliant on generous donations from the public to provide services like this.”

The charity is also helping thousands of employers through its Macmillan At Work scheme. As well as offering a free toolkit, resources and advice, the charity also offers specialist training sessions for line managers and HR professionals to help them feel equipped and confident supporting staff with cancer who want to stay in work during treatment or return to work after.

Macmillan Cancer Support and its team of trained work support advisors for employees with cancer can be called for free help and support on 0808 808 00 00 (Monday — Friday, 9am-5pm). Information is also available at www.macmillan.org.uk/work.

Charity calls on government to commit 1% of annual cost of dementia to research

Alzheimer’s Research UK, the UK’s leading dementia research charity, is calling on government to adopt a bold new action plan to bring about a life-changing dementia treatment and improve the lives of people with the condition. The charity is urging government to commit to spending just 1% of the annual cost of dementia on research into the condition by 2025 to transform research efforts.

Alzheimer's Research UK logoThe call comes as the charity launches its new Make Breakthroughs Possible campaign and pledges to commit a further £250m to dementia research by 2025. Dementia is the leading cause of death across the UK and the number of people living with the condition is expected to grow to 1 million in just three years. Alzheimer’s Research UK believes there is no time to lose if progress is to be made for the millions of people with dementia and their loved ones across the UK.

The plan detailed in the charity’s new report, “No time to lose: An action plan for dementia,” sets out five clear actions designed to bring about a new dementia treatment and improve lives. The call for increased investment in dementia research aligns the condition with investment in other major disease areas.

Dementia currently costs the UK economy £26bn each year, much more than other major health conditions, like cancer which costs £18.7bn. In contrast, only £83.1m, or 0.3%, of the annual cost of dementia is put towards researching the condition compared to 1.4% put towards cancer research.

Increasing funding for dementia research to just 1% of the cost of the condition would accelerate breakthroughs similar to those made in conditions like cancer in recent decades, which have already transformed thousands of lives.

Hilary Evans, Chief Executive for Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “Dementia is the health crisis of our time. With no way to stop or slow the diseases that cause it, no-one has yet survived dementia but we hope to change that.

“We’ve seen progress in recent years thanks to the Prime Minister’s Challenge on Dementia launched in 2012, but without renewed government priority given to dementia, this momentum risks being lost. Dementia has been conspicuously absent from priorities set for the health system in recent months, and we cannot afford to let the condition slip off the radar at this critical time.

“We must see government ensure dementia is a leading health priority and begin to push for the progress seen in the treatment of diseases like cancer and HIV/AIDS over recent decades. Spending just 1% of the cost of dementia on research would make breakthroughs possible, and the thousands of families across the UK who are feeling the impact of dementia deserve nothing less.”

The action plan laid out by Alzheimer’s Research UK aligns its goals with the G8 ambition to bring about a life-changing treatment for dementia by 2025, which the UK government helped to set in 2013.

The plan includes five key actions for government:

  1. Commit 1% of the annual cost of dementia to research
  2. Double the number of scientists and volunteers taking part in dementia research
  3. Work to detect the diseases that cause dementia before symptoms appear
  4. Increase awareness of how people can reduce their risk
  5. Prepare now for future treatments so they reach people quickly.

The report can be read in full at: alzheimersresearchuk.org/actionplan.