Cancer patients increasingly positive about their care

Cancer patients are increasingly positive about their care with 89% rating it as excellent or very good, a national survey shows. This comes as the NHS is treating more patients for cancer than ever before.

The national cancer patient experience survey 2014, published today, asked over 110,000 cancer patients across the country for their views on their care with 64 per cent responding.

The results show improvements in over half of the questions asked compared with the first survey in 2010, with patients reporting positively on areas including feeling they were given enough information, being offered a range of treatment options and being treated with respect and dignity.

The report however suggests clear areas for improvement with many patients feeling that GPs and nurses at their general practice could do more during their cancer treatment and many feeling they weren’t given enough care from health and social services post discharge.

Key findings include:

  • 89% of patients rated their care as excellent or very good (compared to 88% in 2013 and 2012. No data for 2010).
  • 86% of patients said they were given a choice of different types of treatment (compared to 85% in 2013 and 83% in 2010).
  • 89% of patients said they were given the name of a Clinical Nurse Specialist (compared to 88% in 2013 and 84% in 2010).
  • 91% of patients said the Clinical Nurse Specialist listened carefully to them and that when they asked important questions they got understandable answers all/most of the time (the same ratings as in 2010, 2012 and 2013).
  • 95% of patients said they always had enough privacy when being examined or treated (compared to 94% in 2013 and 2012 and 93% in 2010).
  • 84% of patients said they were always treated with respect and dignity by staff (compared to 83% in 2013 and 2012 and 82% in 2010).
  • 59% of patients say they were given enough care and help from health and social services post discharge (compared with 60% in 2013, 61% in 2012 and 60% in 2010).
  • 66% of patients say that GPs and nurses at their general practice did everything they could to support them during their cancer treatment (compared with 68% in 2013, 67% in 2012 and 69% in 2010).
  • 63% of patients said the different hospital and community staff worked well together to give the patient the best possible care (compared with 64% in 2013, 62% in 2012 and 61% in 2010).
  • 67% of patients say their family or someone close to them had the opportunity to talk to a doctor if they wanted to (compared with 66% in 2013, 65% in 2012 and 66% in 2010).

NHS England National Clinical Director for Cancer, Sean Duffy said:

“At a time when the NHS is treating more patients for cancer than ever before, the increasingly positive feedback from this survey shows the power of the patient voice as well as being testament to the hard work of NHS staff.

“We know that cancer services are under pressure though and as the NHS sees more patients earlier, we need to ensure that waiting times are kept down and that in the areas where patients are telling us we need to do better, swift action is taken.

“Trusts and commissioners must reflect on these results and we will be working with NHS Improving Quality and Macmillan Cancer Support to ensure that improvement work is supported over the coming year, by spreading good practice across hospitals providing cancer care.”

In response to the results of the survey, NHS Improving Quality, the health service improvement body, will launch a pioneering project this autumn that pairs highly-rated cancer trusts with trusts that have potential to improve. This is a drive to reduce national variation in patients’ experience of care and raise overall standards. The ‘buddying’ programme will involve up to 12 trusts and will be directed at clinical and managerial staff, including directors of nursing and quality, cancer lead nurses and multidisciplinary teams.

Speaking about the buddying scheme, Jane Whittome, Head of the Experience of Care Programme at NHS Improving Quality, said:

“This is an exciting new project for NHS Improving Quality that will make use of two-way, dynamic learning to share and spread innovative practice. It will make a real difference to the quality of cancer patients’ experience, and help to ensure that no matter where a person is treated, they can expect top quality care and services.”

Health Minister Lord Howe said:

“The NHS is treating more patients for cancer than ever before, and we are seeing real improvements with 89% rating their care as excellent or very good. But we want every person diagnosed to have the best care and treatment regardless of where they live.

“This is why we have invested an extra £750 million to improve treatment and an additional £160 million in the Cancer Drugs Fund to ensure people get the drugs they need. Along with Cancer Research UK and Macmillan we are also working with GPs to further drive early diagnosis.”

Ciarán Devane, Chief Executive of Macmillan Cancer Support, said:

“It is encouraging to see improvements are being made in the quality of care for cancer patients. These findings show we’re starting to see some of the positive impact of Macmillan Cancer Support and NHS England’s programmes to improve the quality of care in a number of hospitals around the country.

“Yet too many people still don’t get the care they deserve because they happen to have a rare cancer, come from an ethnic minority background or live in a certain part of the country.

“If we want to see genuine, widespread change across all of the NHS we need to see this government and the next fully commit to creating a compassionate NHS.”

The full results of the cancer patient experience survey are available on the Quality Health website.

One comment

  1. Susan Willows says:

    This is great feedback.
    Allied health professionals make up over 50% of our cancer care teams and there is no reflection of thier input in the survey (e.g. speech therapists, radiographers, dieticians). Perhaps this could be added next time to give a true picture of all the services that people with cancer benefit from.