Today (Monday 20 February 2017), we’ve launched a new campaign to ensure that no one is denied a potentially lifesaving second transplant. Our Policy and Public Affairs Manager, Amelia Chong, tells you how you can join the fight to #DefendSecondTransplants.
Update: On Friday 24 February 2017, we won the fight to #DefendSecondTransplants! NHS England announced that, with immediate effect, it would fund second transplants for patients whose blood cancer or blood disorder relapses after a year or more. You can find more information here.
What is #DefendSecondTransplants all about?
Back in December 2016, NHS England confirmed that it wouldn’t fund second stem cell transplants for patients who have had a first transplant from a donor but later relapse (their disease comes back). This means that every year up to 20 people are being denied the treatment that could save their life. It’s unacceptable, and that’s why we’re now calling on the Secretary of State for Health to step in and ensure that everyone who needs a second transplant can get one.
Why are second transplants so important?
Put simply, second transplants save lives: evidence shows that one in three people who receive a second transplant after relapsing will be cured. This is often a patient’s last and only hope.
Emma, who’s supporting our campaign, was fortunate to receive a second transplant last year after her blood disorder relapsed. She says,
It’s thanks to my second transplant that I’m able to live a normal life. I’m back at the gym, out seeing friends, getting back to work, and only have to visit hospital every 6 weeks!
Everyone who relapses should have the chance that Emma had, but at the moment this just isn’t the case. In England, patients and their families are having to hope that a rarely granted Individual Funding Request (IFR) is approved or raise the money for a second transplant themselves, which is obviously really difficult and stressful.
The situation needs to change. That’s why we’re asking everyone to join the fight to #DefendSecondTransplants.
How can I support #DefendSecondTransplants?
It’s really quick and easy to support the campaign. All you need to do is sign our petition calling on the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt MP, to ensure that no patient is denied the stem cell transplant that could save their life.
When you sign the petition, you’ll also have the option of telling the government why you’re joining the fight to #DefendSecondTransplants. This will help us bring the issue to life. Maybe you know someone who needs a second transplant, or maybe you just think it’s wrong that patients are being denied a cure?
If you’re really keen and would like to do even more to support the campaign, we’d love to hear from you! You can get in touch with the campaigns team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
In terms of what happens afterwards, on Wednesday 22 March, we’ll be heading to Parliament with a group of supporters to deliver the petition and a selection of messages. We hope that the Secretary of State for Health will take the time to meet with us.
We’ll also be inviting MPs to talk to patients and families who have been affected by NHS England’s decision. We want them to hear first hand exactly why second transplants are so important, with the hope that this will inspire them to take action.
But wait, haven’t NHS England just announced that they’re going to fund second transplants?
You may have seen a media comment from NHS England on Monday 20 February, saying,
…heading into the year beginning April 2017 we are confident the NHS will shortly be able to confirm funding for a further expansion of new treatments including second stem cell transplants.
While this is welcome news, it’s not a done deal. We know there are patients affected right now who desperately need clarity about their situation. Until we have a formal announcement from NHS England confirming that second transplants will be funded, we urge everyone to keep the pressure up by signing the #DefendSecondTransplants petition.
Where can I go to get more information or support?
If you still want more information about NHS England’s decision or our #DefendSecondTransplants campaign, you can email the campaigns team at email@example.com.
We also recognise that this issue may be very upsetting for patients and their families. If you want to speak to our dedicated patient services team for support, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0303 303 0303 and dial 2 to speak to the Patient Services Team.