Patient experience

Everyone should be treated with care and compassion and be an equal partner in their care from the moment they see their GP with worries about cancer. We are absolutely committed to making sure patient experience is always considered as important as clinical effectiveness and safety.

Understanding patient views about the cancer treatment they’ve experienced will help make our services better for all patients. We ask health professionals to support and encourage all patients, from all backgrounds, to provide feedback on their care and treatment using local and national feedback mechanisms. We also encourage those patients who are invited to take part in our annual Cancer Patient Experience Survey to give it serious consideration. This is an important opportunity to share personal experience to help us to help future patients.

The National Cancer Patient Experience Survey 2018 asked people with cancer across England for their views on their care, including rating their care on a scale of zero (very poor) to 10 (very good). Patients gave an average rating of 9 out of 10 (8.8) which remains a record high and testament to the hard work and compassion of NHS staff.

The results from 73,187 respondents also showed that efforts to give patients more personalised care is working. Compared to 2015 (when 71,186 patients responded to the survey):

  • 2,131 more patients said that they had been given information about financial support they might be entitled to (an increase in positive patient experience from 54.7% to 60.4%)
  • 5,055 more patients said that they got more information about support or self-help groups (an increase in positive patient experience from 83.0% to 86.5%)
  • 4,007 more patients said they thought the time they had to wait when attending clinics and appointments for your cancer treatment was about right (an increase in positive patient experience from 65.9% to 69.1%)

Improving cancer care for children and young people is a key commitment in the NHS Long Term Plan. The National Cancer Patient Experience Survey for children under 16 years of age is a new national initiative, to gather feedback from children and young people on the care and treatment they received. This will help us to understand what is good about children’s cancer care and identify how we can make improvements.

Currently in development, this new survey will be made up of two separate questionnaires to capture the experiences of children at different ages; one for 8-11 year olds and one for 12-15 year olds. We are also developing a questionnaire to capture the experiences of parents/carers (of children aged 0-15). Having both children’s and parents’ perspectives will provide vital information about their cancer experience – what worked well during their care and what could be better or different – to help make cancer care better for the future.

An advisory group which includes children and parents, stakeholders and the survey supplier has been set up to develop the questions with a view to launching the survey next summer. During January 2020, Picker is recruiting people to take part in a number focus groups throughout February in London, Manchester and Bristol. These discussions, each involving six to eight people, will help researchers to understand what aspects of their experience of cancer care matters most to people and this will underpin development of the survey questionnaire over the coming months.

As we progress with the delivery of the NHS Long Term Plan, our plans will continue to be shaped by our conversations with patients, carers and families, as well as clinicians. For more information, please visit the Long Term Plan website. Alternatively, if you would like to receive updates on the progress of the survey for children under 16, please do get in touch with us via

Further information can be found in this short blog “Getting a child’s eye view of cancer patient experience”.

Support to complete the National Cancer Patient Experience Survey

Patients can get help, access a translator or complete their survey by telephone by calling the Picker FREEPHONE helpline on 0800 103 2804. Patients can also ask for the questionnaire in large print. To find out more about giving feedback visit the National Cancer Patient Experience Survey website.