Carers looking after somebody with cancer deliver injections and manage catheters often without any training, a poll has found.
More than one in five carers – around 240,000 people – do things such as change dressings and manage infections, of whom 53 per cent say they have had little or no instructions or training from a health professional.
One in five (21 per cent) cancer carers who have received some advice or training said it was not enough.
The survey of more than 2,000 carers, for Macmillan Cancer Support, found 63 per cent of those with no training or whose training was not good enough had been left feeling distressed and 50 per cent said the situation left them feeling frightened.
Of those who perform healthcare tasks, 36 per cent have had to urgently call a doctor or 999 to get support or advice on how to help the person they care for.
Macmillan is now calling for changes in the Care Bill to ensure the NHS in England supports cancer carers.
Ciaran Devane, chief executive of the charity, said: “Not only do cancer carers give hours of emotional support and practical help, they are performing clinical duties.
“It’s a huge responsibility they take on out of duty and love. Families and carers are the backbone of society and they deserve to be supported.
“Without support, cancer carers can go beyond breaking point which is bad for them and their loved one but is also costly to the NHS and ultimately to the taxpayer.