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Tampon Tax Fund awards Ovarian Cancer Action over £1m to tackle health inequalities

27 November 2020

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Ovarian Cancer Action is delighted to announce it has secured over £1 million of funding from the UK Government Tampon Tax Fund, to tackle systemic and regional health inequalities for women with ovarian cancer.

The purpose of the Tampon Tax Fund is to allocate the funds generated from the VAT on sanitary products to projects that improve the lives of disadvantaged women and girls.

Anecdotally, we have known for a long time that access to the best quality ovarian cancer treatment, care, and therefore chance of survival is dependent on ethnicity, age, and where a woman lives. Some communities are further disadvantaged due to language and cultural barriers that impact their diagnosis, treatment and clinical care. Our recent Ovarian Cancer Audit Feasibility Pilot provided solid evidence around some of these factors across England. Covid-19 has only heightened the disparities and it is a matter of urgency that we close the gaps across all four nations and in particular, ensure that the most isolated and disadvantaged get equal access to clinical care.

If every region provided the standard of care available in the top Cancer Commissioning Groups, the UK would progress from having one of the poorest five-year ovarian cancer survival rates in Europe, to being one of the best-performing countries.

Tackling inequalities

To address the inequality that women with ovarian cancer face, from diagnosis to surgery and treatment, we will partner with expert organisations across the UK, and use evidence to award targeted funding to share best-practice, improving survival rates for all women regardless of where she lives, her age or ethnicity. The project will be delivered in partnership with the British Gynaecological Cancer Society (BGCS), led and delivered by the clinical community across all four nations of the UK, with ovarian cancer patients at the heart of the project.  

Once completed, the results will be analysed, published and shared with the broader clinical community, creating a permanent learning resource. This project and level of collaboration is welcomed by both patients and the clinical community, paving the way for successful and long-lasting partnerships across the UK.

Cary Wakefield, CEO of Ovarian Cancer Action, said: “We are hugely grateful to be one of this amazing group of women’s charities to receive a grant from the Tampon Tax Fund. The funding will enable us to address the very real health inequalities that exist and ensure all women with ovarian cancer receive the best standard of care, regardless of their age, ethnicity, or location. This could significantly improve survival rates in the UK and we can’t wait to get started.”

President of the British Gynaecological Cancer Society, Professor Sudha Sundar, said: “I am delighted to hear that Ovarian Cancer Action has been awarded this funding to improve ovarian cancer outcomes. This will enable critical work to share best practices and address inequalities.”

Anna Hannides was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2019, after noticing a lump in her stomach when she was lying down. Anna said: “I am eternally grateful to my gynaecologist for acting so quickly and for being so supportive, as well as my surgeon, the nurses and the doctors who took such good care of me. I am here today because I received fast and effective treatment and I want all women to have the same.”

The two-year project will develop a model of best-practice sharing that can be replicated and used by other organisations to reduce inequality in other diseases or women’s social issues.

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