David Heyes one of the OPA's trustees, was the host of a rally and one of the MPs who signed the campaign pledge on oesophageal cancer last night (13 October 2014) at a well attended rally and reception at Westminster.
The pledge draws attention to the fact that more than 70% of the oesophageal cancer cases in the UK are associated with Barrett's Oesophagus, that awareness of this amongst the public and health professionals is low, and that access to early diagnosis and treatment for Barrett's Oesophagus reduces the likelihood of developing cancer which saves lives and is cost-effective for the NHS. The pledge ends 'We believe that NHS England should support guidance and referral of patients with persistent heartburn and those at risk of Barrett's Oesophagus. In addition we fully support the Be Clear on Cancer campaign and its extension across the NHS to the rest of England"
So thank you to all those who contacted their MPs and attended Parliament yesterday. We believe it was a resounding success. The reception was hosted by Mike Thornton, MP for Eastleigh. As well as surgeon Tim Underwood, the speakers included Professor Mike Griffin from Newcastle, Andrew Gwynne MP, shadow health minister, Norman Lamb and Jane Ellison, both ministers in the Health Department, thereby demonstrating cross party support. One patient story included a Barrett's Oesophagus patient who had not attended check ups for some years only to find that he had developed high grade dysplasia. This would have meant an oesophagectomy, but he was given successful radio frequency ablation (RFA) treatment.
So now the campaign needs to continue this momentum.
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all have their own sections of the NHS and ministers.
The importance of diagnosing , monitoring and treating Barrett's Oesophagus is an important strategy for reducing deaths from oesophageal cancer through early diagnosis. Provision of RFA is patchy at the moment (there was one patient there who had been successfully treated by RFA only after insisting on a referral to another hospital after an oesophagectomy was planned for him). The Be Clear on Cancer campaign will be run across England from 26 January until the end of February 2015, so we need to do all we can to support that.
We are most grateful to David Heyes and Mike Thornton for their part in making the day a success.