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Roger Daltrey and Dr Adrian Whiteson
Roger Daltrey and Dr Adrian Whiteson
BBC BREAKFAST WITH FROST INTERVIEW: ROGER DALTREY THE WHO and DR ADRIAN WHITESON OF THE TEENAGE CANCER TRUST FEBRUARY 3RD, 2002

Please note "BBC Breakfast with Frost" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used

DAVID FROST: Now the Royal Albert Hall will be hosting a rather special event this week, it's a series of five gigs in aid of the charity Teenage Cancer Trust, the show will feature big names in rock and roll and pop and the performers will include the Who as seen here in their heyday, that was in the early '70s and they'll be playing some of their greatest hits at the Royal Albert Hall and then on other nights the event will be joined by Oasis and Paul Weller and Robert Plant. In fact actually the Who's Roger Daltrey has been fund-raising for the charity for some time to help provide specialist cancer care units to treat teenagers and I'm joined now by Roger and by Dr Adrian Whiteson the co-chairman of the Teenage Cancer Trust. Gentlemen, Adrian, Roger, good morning. Roger just tell us how you got involved with this charity?

ROGER DALTREY: It's something I was made aware of because Adrian is my doctor, I'm fortunate enough to have a good doctor and he started this charity ten or twelve years ago and the Who weren't working then but I always told him that if we ever did go back to work we'd work for him. I mean I was completely ignorant of the, of how poorly teenagers are treated within the Health Service, it really is appalling.

DAVID FROST: So teenagers and adolescents come off worst, worse in the matter of cancer treatment than older people then?

ADRIAN WHITESON: Yes basically all, all patients with cancer are treated but teenagers if they're small will finish up, unless they're in one of our units with babies, older people finish up with older people, older teenagers with geriatrics - it doesn't work, teenagers are a separate entity, they need to be well looked after in their own positive environment. It's unfair to say a 14-year-old to have to be in with a three-year-old, it doesn't work, they, you know, three-year-olds go to bed at five, wake up at five in the morning, my teenage children used to go to bed at 5am and wake up at 5pm. Older teenagers do not want geriatrics around, they want to be surrounded by their friends, older people want to, literally just curl up at times and die, they've lived their lives, teenagers have got everything in front of them, put them in a positive environment, give them everything they need, surrounded by people of their own age and treated by people who know what they're doing.

DAVID FROST: And Roger how many of these units have, have you managed so far and what's the target?

ROGER DALTREY: Well the target is 20 units around the country, that's all that the consultants need, so it's not a huge amount. And our targets over the next five years to raise is 20, we need another 25 million. So as a straight business deal it's a very good deal because I would think roughly probably for one per cent increase in your outgoings you could have up to 15 per cent increase in your improvement rate and we are talking about teenagers lives here.

DAVID FROST: Should, should this have been done, it's easy to say everything should be done by the government but I mean is it, is it...

ROGER DALTREY: David what people don't realise is there are more teenagers in hospital than there are children but there is, I think there is, I don't know quite if it's true now but there was only one adolescent ward in the National Health Service, whereas every hospital has a children's ward and their, and the Teenage Cancer Trust wards which we're building, I think we've got six on stream and we're aiming for 20, that's how bad this is, the situation. But there are actually more teenagers than children in our hospitals.

DAVID FROST: But is, is this something that ought to be done by the government, or is it unrealistic to say the NHS can afford these units at 750,000 a time?

ADRIAN WHITESON: In an ideal situation of course it is the government's responsibility but there are other equally important and pressing things within the NHS, we've got to get that right first so we are very happy to build the wards in a positive environment providing that they are then carried on and the nursing staff are there to, to make sure the teenagers are well looked after. I mean everybody's treated but we think that in our units we've got a 15 per cent increased survival rate and the nursing staff have to be specialists, the consultants etc, and this will happen, it has to, I mean we've got wonderful...

DAVID FROST: But you've, highlit here an area which as you say Roger, doesn't usually get a lot of attention, that in fact there are so many teenagers facing, facing this sort of...

ROGER DALTREY: Every, every parent knows how difficult, for instance, it is to get your teenage child, you know, teenagers talk about their, their personal problems, it's incredibly difficult. They tend to withdraw into themselves although in public life they're generally the most visible group of people, they try and be outrageous and they try and do outrageous things, trying to make their mark on, on in the life they are going to go on to lead. They tend to suffer in silence and what, what we find in these units by putting them together, they can express how they feel about their illness which against the psychological impact of this is giving us up to a 15 per cent improvement rate and I would say to Tony Blair as a friendly challenge, as a father of three teenage children, at least match us pound for pound, every pound we raise let the government. We're not talking about a large amount of money here, as I say 25 million will cover the next five years and that's to build all the units we need. So it's a very achievable target, I mean we built, the Who four, four as I call them scumbags from Shepherd's Bush and friends, a lot of friends from the business, we, we built a unit and a half, I think two units last year. So if people like us can do it there must be an awful lot of other big business, big businesses and banks, all kinds of things people out there, these are their future customers, it's a good investment.

DAVID FROST: Thank you very much, that's, that's spot on, a last sentence you were just going to say...

ADRIAN WHITESON: No I was going to say, it's not only for young people with cancer but leukaemia, hodgkins and other related diseases all come into the same group. They're treated but they're not treated in a positive environment, get that right, get the youngsters really going and we've got some increased survival rates.

DAVID FROST: Thank you both very much indeed, good luck this week at the Royal Albert Hall, have a wonderful time in a wonderful cause.

END


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