Press release

Cancer patient experience improves across the country

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

More cancer patients are reporting that they are treated with respect, given treatment choices and are benefitting from better services according to the results of a national survey, announced today by Health Secretary Andrew Lansley.

The second national cancer patient experience survey shows 98 Trusts have improved on their results from last year and overall 88 per cent of patients surveyed rated their overall care as excellent or very good.

The survey provides detailed information on cancer patients’ experiences of cancer services - allowing the NHS locally to see how it is performing and to focus on areas where improvement is needed, including better information for patients and better support during inpatient stays.

Key findings from the survey show patients are:

  • Given clear answers - 91 per cent (91 per cent in 2010) of patients saying that they received understandable answers to important questions all or most of the time from their Clinical Nurse Specialist;
  • Treated with dignity - 94 per cent (93 per cent in 2010) of patients saying that they were always given enough privacy when being examined or treated;
  • Seen quickly - 83 per cent (81 per cent in 2010) of patients feeling they were seen as soon as necessary by a hospital doctor;
    Treated with respect - 83 per cent (83 per cent in 2010) of patients feeling they were told sensitively that they had cancer;
  • Given a choice of treatment - 84 per cent (83 per cent in 2010) of patients being given a choice of different types of cancer treatment before their treatment started.

Speaking at a visit to Portsmouth Hospital NHS Trusts, the most improved Trust in the country, the Secretary of State for Health, Andrew Lansley said:

“We want an NHS which puts patients at the heart of everything, with a focus on the care given and results which matter most to people. 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.”

The survey was completed by more than 70,000 patients this year which was up from last year.

Trusts have taken action in a range of different ways since the last survey, to tackle the issues identified.  In addition, Quality Health, who carried out the survey, went to talk through the results with last year’s under performing Trusts and most of these have now significantly improved this year.  The 10 most improved trusts for this year’s survey were:

  • Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust
  • Guy’s & St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust
  • Tameside Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
  • The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust
  • Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust
  • East Kent University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • University Hospital Bristol NHS Foundation Trust
  • South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust
  • Norfolk & Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • Medway NHS Foundation Trust

National Cancer Director Professor 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.

“I am looking forward to seeing even more improvements in the results from the survey we will carry out later this year.”

Juliet Bouverie, Director of Services, Macmillan Cancer Support, says: 
“We welcome the release of this data. It is fantastic news that so many Trusts have improved in the experience they provide cancer patients in one year.
“However it is essential that this is the case across all cancer types. People who have rarer cancers should not be treated any worse than those with a common cancer.

“Macmillan believes that the NHS Commissioning Board now needs to ensure strong incentives are provided to the NHS so that commissioners are judged on patient experience as a measure of how they are performing.”

This was the first year that the survey asked questions about cancer research. Research is essential for finding tomorrow’s treatments, and the results gave a strong indication of cancer patients’ willingness to be involved in research. The National Institute for Health Research Cancer Research Network (NCRN) is already committed to ensuring this and is trying to promote as many opportunities as possible for patients to be involved. 
NCRN Director, Professor Matt Seymour, said:

“The research figures are very encouraging. Cancer research studies are absolutely critical to how we improve cancer treatment, both for today’s patients and for future generations. The UK is leading the world rankings, with more patients taking part in research than anywhere else. So it is great to learn that 95% of patients who were invited to discuss research were glad to have been asked, and this confirms that it is right to give as many people as possible the option of getting involved. There are hundreds of clinical studies taking place across the country which need the involvement of patients. We are working to extend this even further, so that even more of our patients can be given this choice, and help to beat this disease.”

Whilst the survey showed a vast improvement from last years survey, it also highlighted areas which trusts will need to look at including findings which revealed that only 60 per cent of patients said doctors or nurses definitely gave their family or someone close to them all the information they needed to help care for them at home.

The Department of Health through Quality Health, has sent all the Trusts their individual reports, so that they can identify areas for improvement.  These Trusts can invite Quality Health in to explain the survey results, so they can see where and how they can improve services for their cancer patients.

Notes to editors

  1. For further information please contact the Department of Health Press Office on 020 7210 5375.

  2. 71,793 people completed the survey which is an increase of one per cent from the 2010.