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Campaigning in Northern Ireland

Posted by: Policy and campaigning 18 June 2014

This week we joined supporter Kerry Irvine in Northern Ireland to campaign at Stormont! Here's our Campaigns and Policy Manager David's update of the day.

"Long gone are the days when the NHS was run centrally from Westminster, with one Secretary of State for Health directing how healthcare is delivered across the whole of the UK. Instead, since the introduction of devolution, health services are the responsibility of the different governing administrations: NHS England is still looked after by the Secretary of State for Health in Whitehall, but separate Health Ministers are responsible for the NHS and healthcare system in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. And these Ministers are scrutinised and held to account by the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly and Northern Ireland Legislative Assembly respectively.

As a charity we need to be making our voice heard in each of those different assemblies, and making sure that each of the relevant Minister's is pressed to make the changes we need to see implemented. With this action, we'll help improve awareness of the disease, diagnosis, care and treatment of pancreatic cancer across the whole of the UK.

Last month, Pancreatic Cancer UK held meetings in the Scottish Parliament to raise awareness of the disease and to make sure Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) heard what we had to say.

This month, on 16th June, alongside  local supporters and campaigners Kerry Irvine and Gráinne O'Neill and  Pancreatic Cancer Action, we held a series of meetings with Members of the Northern Ireland Legislative Assembly (MLAs). As well as the Chair of the Health Committee, Maeve McLaughlin, and the Minister for Health, Social Services and Public Safety, Edwin Poots, we also met with Thomas Buchanan MLA, Mickey Brady MLA, Michelle Gildernew MP and several officials. (Mr Buchanan has been particularly helpful as he has also tabled a number of Assembly Questions about pancreatic cancer over the past month or so.)

Throughout the day:

  • We explained the need for changes to improve awareness of pancreatic cancer in both the general public and the medical professions
  • Pressed for better training and support for GPs to aid early diagnosis; explained why patients needed access to specialist information at the point of diagnosis (which is why we've created our newly diagnosed packs for patients and their families)
  • Emphasised the need for patients to have access to Clinical Nurse Specialists and dieticians to make sure they have the best care possible. All day we repeated the appalling pancreatic cancer survival stats to try and hammer home our point and need for change

All the meetings went well and we now have a number of areas to follow up.

Pancreatic Cancer UK will be continuing our lobbying efforts across the whole of the UK over the coming months."

You're a vital part of our campaigning - find out more about our political work and how you can get involved here.