Publish date: 16 November 2023

Addressing inequalities in cancer diagnosis and treatment amongst people in the LGBTIQ+ community, as well as those who are disabled and neurodivergent was the focus for debate in Parliament this week, involving the West Yorkshire and Harrogate Cancer Alliance (WYHCA).

The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on cancer brought together parliamentarians and stakeholders from the cancer sector to discuss some of the current inequalities that exist across the cancer pathway amongst those with protected characteristics.

Hayley Snowden, Health Inequalities Programme Manager at the West Yorkshire, and Harrogate Cancer Alliance addressed the APPG, along with Stewart O’Callaghan, founder and CEO of OUTpatients, the UK’s only LGBTIQ+ cancer charity and Katie Munday (MRes) and Rosie Tansley (Doctoral Candidate) who are community researchers.

A joint campaign between WYHCA and OUTpatients, Remove the Doubt, ran earlier this year which aimed to increase the awareness of signs and symptoms of cervical cancer and the importance of screening attendance, was the focus of the debate.

The campaign tackled myths and misconceptions about cervical screening – whether that be eligibility, how people are treated during the screening process, or addressing community fears.

The APPG event follows a recent study ‘What I Would Like to Say,’ commissioned by Wessex Cancer Alliance, to understand more about why disabled and neurodivergent people experience poorer outcomes from their cancer care.

Hayley Snowden said: “This event provided us with a fantastic opportunity to come together with stakeholders and parliamentarians to discuss health inequalities and what cancer alliances are doing nationally to reduce them.

“We are doing a lot of work in West Yorkshire and Harrogate to reduce inequalities in access, care, and outcomes for those affected by cancer and are keen to build on it.

“This includes raising awareness of early prevention, maximising uptake of national screening programmes and encouraging early presentation, focusing on specific groups including deprived communities, ethnic minority patients, those with learning disabilities and the homeless.”