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Last Friday the results of the annual National Cancer Patient Experience Survey were released. We are delighted to see that the vast majority of feedback from cancer patients is very positive and when asked to rate their care on a scale of 1 to 10 the average was 8.7 which is high. We are particularly pleased that 90% of respondents said that they were given the name of a clinical nurse specialist (CNS) who would support them through their treatment and 86% of respondents said that it had been “quite or very easy to contact their Clinical Nurse Specialist”. We know that the support offered by a CNS plays a vital role in physical and emotional wellbeing during treatment so it is great to see so many patients benefiting from this vital service.
It is important for us to see constant improvement in care. This is why we are pleased to see that there were significant improvements in 13 of the survey questions compared to last year, for example, improvements in the length of time it took for patients to be referred to and seen by a hospital doctor. However whilst no scores have deteriorated over the last year, there were no significant changes in 35 areas illustrating key areas in care that need to be addressed. One such area is inconsistencies in care received, in particular with gaps in information provision. Patients reported better provision of information on their treatment before it commenced in contrast to that received during treatment. . Support from health and social services at home was also experienced less positively than that of care received in hospital. There also appears to be inconsistencies in how care is experienced between genders. For example when patients were asked the question, “Once your cancer treatment finished, were you given enough care and support from health or social services (for example, district nurses, home helps or physiotherapists)?” 48% of male respondents gave a positive response, compared to 42% of female respondents.
Another area of concern is around support during and after treatment where communication of relevant information is often limited, just 54% of respondents said that they were “definitely told about any side effects of their treatment that could affect them in the future”. Support dealing with the side effects of treatment is often lacking too, only 66% of respondents said that they were “definitely offered practical advice and support in dealing with the side effects of their treatment”.
Undergoing treatment can have long term physical and psychological implications for patients and this is not helped by the fact that only 52% of respondents said that “they definitely found someone on the hospital staff to talk to about their worries and fears”. When contact with a clinician is made, patients still do not always feel that they are well supported. Just 62% of respondents said that they thought the GPs and nurses at their GP surgery did everything they could to support them while they were having treatment.
One area we are particularly focused on is ensuring psychological needs are met alongside the physical and not neglected. Tools such as Care Plans can help clinicians to meet such needs, however currently just a third of patients are benefiting from them.
We believe every woman, and indeed every cancer patient, should have the best care and support possible and hope to see patient experience continually improving to ensure this happens. If you need any information or support, Jo’s is here for you. Have a look at our information pages and support services.