Warning: Invalid argument supplied for foreach() in /home/nclexion/public_html/wp-content/themes/jnews/class/ContentTag.php on line 47
Most patients diagnosed with cancer during 2019 were given the name of a clinical nurse specialist who would support them through their treatment, marking a small improvement on the year before.
The results of the 2019 National Cancer Patient Experience Survey were published today and show that overall experiences have improved, but more support is still needed, according to researchers.
“Most people report good experiences overall, and broad satisfaction with clinical services is improving”
The survey suggested the vast majority of people living with and beyond cancer rated their overall NHS care highly, “despite tens of thousands not receiving enough care, support, or practical advice”.
The research – conducted by the Picker Institute prior to the Covid-19 pandemic – asked 67,000 people living with and beyond cancer about all aspects of their care and treatment.
Overall, 95% of patients rated their care as seven or above out of 10, according to the survey.
Results showed a significant improvement in the proportion of people who felt they were told sensitively that they had cancer – 86% in 2019 up from 85% in 2018.
It also found that 92% were given the name of a clinical nurse specialist who would support them through their treatment, and 85% found this person very or quite easy to contact.
This is slightly better than in 2018, when 91% reported being given the name of a specialist nurse and the same for finding it easy to contact that nurse.
In addition, almost all, 94%, had hospital staff tell them whom to contact if they were worried about their condition or treatment after leaving hospital.
However, the researchers noted that some key areas still needed to be improved, which was conducted by Picker on behalf of NHS England and NHS Improvement.
For example, only 67% of patients were definitely offered practical advice and support in dealing with side effects from treatment, and only 52% were definitely given enough care and support.
“Worse still, the coronavirus pandemic this year could have worsened these inequalities”
Meanwhile, 37% were not given information about how to get financial help or benefits from hospital staff.
The survey also found that only 38% of respondents said they were given a written care plan setting out their needs and goals to care for them.
While this was an improvement from 35% in 2018, it falls short of the ambition in the NHS Long Term Plan for Cancer that “by 2021, where appropriate, every person diagnosed with cancer will have access to personalised care, including needs assessment, a care plan and health and wellbeing information and support”.
Chris Graham, chief executive of Picker, said: “The annual national cancer patient experience survey is a vital window into the experiences of people receiving cancer care through the NHS.
“This year’s results show that most people report good experiences overall, and broad satisfaction with clinical services is improving from a high base,” she said. “This is great news.”
In contrast, Mr Graham said: “It is important that people are able to access comprehensive support that addresses their circumstances.”
“These survey results provide important insight, and all NHS organisations should take careful note of their findings.”
He added: “it’s also important to acknowledge that the survey was conducted before the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown, which will create new challenges for the provision of cancer services.”
“Young people who develop cancer are often hit hard psychologically”
Each year, the number of new cancer diagnoses in England continues to increase, with over 320,000 new cases in 2018 and an average of 878 new cancer diagnoses on average each day of 2018.
The 2019 Cancer Patient Experience Survey was the ninth in the series and a total of 143 NHS trusts across England that provide cancer care took part.
In response, Lynda Thomas, chief executive of Macmillan Cancer Support said: “The latest statistics show an ongoing disparity of care for some cancer patients in England.
“Worse still, the coronavirus pandemic this year could have worsened these inequalities,” she said.
“It’s integral that anyone diagnosed with cancer is included in detailed conversations about their treatment with healthcare practitioners and that everyone has an active role in decisions about their care, regardless of their background.”
Ben Sundell, head of policy and public affairs at the Teenage Cancer Trust, said: “Young people who develop cancer are often hit hard psychologically.
“So, to see that 16-24 year olds were most likely to have a named clinical nurse specialist, and significantly more likely than other groups to have access to a professional who they felt they could talk to about worries and fears, is extremely reassuring.”
He added: “The survey also paints a positive picture in terms of how highly young people rate their care – with 95.6% rating it between seven and 10 out of 10.
“However, the landscape of 2019 is a stark contrast to 2020, where the coronavirus pandemic has left large numbers of young people feeling more isolated than ever before with vital psychological support hard to reach.”