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Lansley hails cancer care improvements

Treatment for cancer sufferers has undergone a “fantastic” improvement with patients being seen quicker and being given wider treatment options, the health secretary has said.

Announcing the results of the national cancer patient experience survey, Andrew Lansley said that 88 per cent of patients rated their care as very good or excellent.

The research also found that 98 of 158 English NHS trusts improved their score compared with last year.

During a visit to Portsmouth Hospitals Trust, the most improved trust in the country, Mr Lansley said that the survey showed recognition for the improvements made but also highlighted how changes could still be made.

He said: “This survey shows we are heading in the right direction.

“An improved patient experience for cancer patients is fantastic news and I would like to thank those doctors and nurses who have worked tirelessly to improve standards of care.

“Where trusts are doing less well, I would urge them to look at what patients are telling them and take action so that cancer care best practice is adopted across the whole of the NHS.”

After meeting patients at the breast cancer unit at the Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth, Hampshire, Mr Lansley said the greatest improvements had been in communication, providing dignity and respect and involving patients in choosing the most appropriate treatment for them.

He said: “We have to make sure patients have the right care, in the right place, at the right time, that they are much more informed about their care.”

The survey found that 94 per cent of patients said they were treated with dignity in 2011, a rise from 93 per cent in 2010. And 83 per cent of cancer patients said they were seen by a hospital doctor quickly compared with 81 per cent in the previous year.

Of the 70,000 patients surveyed, 84 per cent said they were given a choice of different types of cancer treatment before their treatment started.

The survey also found that more than nine in 10 patients believed they were given clear answers by healthcare specialists and 83 per cent said they were treated with respect.

National cancer director Sir Mike Richards said: “The information from this survey is vital to driving improvements on the ground for patients. By seeing what areas they can improve upon, the local NHS can focus on the areas that matter most to patients.”

NHS Confederation deputy director of policy Jo Webber said: “The fact that so many cancer patients rated their care so highly is something the NHS should be very proud of. Excellent care doesn’t happen by accident; it is the result of detailed planning, hard work and well-developed medical and personal skills of NHS staff.

“In an NHS which puts patients at its heart, feedback is one of the most important indicators of performance because it measures whether care and treatment have been positive for the people who matter most. Where the results show room for improvement, for example on providing more information to patients’ family members, trusts need to be looking at how they can address these areas.

“Across the board, clinicians and managers will be examining their individual reports closely to see where they can improve their performance, even in organisations which have scored highly or improved significantly. NHS organisations know that using this information is essential for helping drive up the standards of care and treatment for their patients.”

Readers' comments (2)

  • Excellent news on standards and care, however we need more focus on early diagnosis please.

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  • Interesting that performance in NHS cancer care (survival not patient experience) was a justification (retrospectively cited) for the mega-NHS change currently just starting to be implemented. If what supposedly matters to patients can improve so rapidly without such massive change- why are we going through it all?

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