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Cancer treatment good but aftercare less so

Scotland publishes cancer patient survey

Jo Carlowe

Monday, 06 June 2016

A survey of Scottish cancer patients, published today, reveals most are happy with their treatment, but less positive about their aftercare and support.

The first ever Scottish cancer patient experience survey, shows that 94% of patients rated their care positively, with 87% saying they were always treated with dignity and respect by nurses and doctors.

However, patients were less positive when asked about the information they had received from hospital staff that did not relate to clinical care. With one in four patients who wanted it, receiving no information regarding the impact of cancer on their day to day activities.

Likewise, almost half of patients (49%) who wanted it, received no information on financial help or benefits.

In addition, only 54% of patients who needed care and support at home said they got enough care and support from health and social services during their treatment, and just 45% reported receiving enough care and support after treatment. 

While the vast majority of patients (86%) said they were told that they had cancer sensitively, 28% were not told they could bring a family member or friend with them when told of their diagnosis. 

The First Minister and Health Secretary Shona Robison visited the Macmillan Cancer Support Centre at Edinburgh’s Western General Hospital to speak to patients about the survey, which included the views of almost 5,000 patients.

The First Minister said: “It is heartening to know that in the majority of cases, patients are satisfied with the care they receive. Being diagnosed with cancer can be very traumatic for individuals and their families and it is vital we provide the best possible care and support.

“We know there is more to be done and that’s why earlier this year we announced our £100 million cancer strategy, which makes clear the importance of listening to what people with cancer are saying about what matters to them, and acting on what they tell us.

“The results of this survey is the first step in this process and will support us in making improvements in cancer care across Scotland.”

However, Ms Robison acknowledged that more could be done to improve the quality of care available after treatment.

“It is essential that people with cancer know about their treatment and are able to access to information, advice and support tailored to their individual needs.

“Our cancer strategy makes clear the importance of ensuring that on-going wellbeing needs are addressed at the same time as health needs.”

Commenting, Macmillan’s head in Scotland, Janice Preston, said: “This survey shows that without a doubt, offering patients a holistic needs assessment and care plan is vitally important in ensuring they have a good experience of care.

“The gulf in the patient experience had by those who had a care plan compared to those who didn’t is truly startling, particularly when it comes to accessing emotional, practical and financial support.

“We look forward to working closely with the Scottish Government to make sure every cancer patient in the country is offered this as soon as possible.”

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