CANCER: More work to be done

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Responding to the Cancer Patient Experience Survey for England, Macmillan estimates that among those who felt they needed it, 41 per cent of cancer patients in the north east say that they didn’t receive adequate information about the potential long-term side effects as a result of their treatment.

Patients may be unaware of debilitating side effects, such as heart conditions, incontinence or infertility, and as such are unlikely to have guidance on where to get support.

More than 63 per cent of patients say they never received a care plan that could help them deal with their condition better. A care plan sets out the patients’ treatment and could include information on potential side effects and where they can get vital support.

Macmillan has always believed that the patients’ voice should inform the direction of travel for cancer care.

According to this year’s survey, it seems cancer patients are having a good overall experience of care in the north east, even though there are still concerns.

For example, although 46 per cent of cancer patients say they didn’t always find someone on the hospital staff to talk to if they had worries, 95 per cent say they were told whom to contact after leaving hospital if they have worries about their condition. Everyone with cancer has different needs. Some may require support with long-term side effects, others with mental health issues or money worries.

Macmillan has been working on helping to ensure that no one faces cancer alone.

It is vital that patients have a good experience of care from the moment they experience symptoms, through treatment, and for as long as they need afterwards.

We understand that sustainable change in the healthcare system takes time so we will continue to work with patients in the north east and in partnership with our local NHS and hospitals, local authorities and surgeries to improve patient experience.

There are many success stories, but even more work needs to be done. Macmillan is developing bespoke solutions that meet the specific needs of the area.

The Cancer Patient Experience Survey is an official statistic and we hope that this new data and information will serve as one more way to improve even more. We continue to work tirelessly to that end.

Paul McCavana

Macmillan Head of Services North of England