Major survey shows need for more effective personalisation in cancer care
People treated for cancer in England report generally positive experiences of care in hospital, according to a major survey published today. But the results also show that care can lack personalisation, and that there are gaps in the wider support for people with cancer outside of hospital.
Most respondents described positive experiences of care from specialist cancer teams and in hospital. Nine in ten had a main point of contact in their care team (92%), and almost all said that this person was “quite” or “very” helpful (96%). Similarly, respondents were positive about the support they received in hospital. A large majority said that they were “always” treated with respect and dignity (89%) and had confidence and trust in all of the team looking after them in hospital (81%).
Despite these positive findings about direct patient care from cancer teams and in hospital, other areas showed significant room for improvement. Personalisation and person centredness, which are policy priorities and important to patients and users, were too often lacking. For example, only 70% of respondents said that they were “always” involved in decisions about their care and treatment while in hospital. A similar proportion (72%) said that they “definitely” had a discussion with a member of the team looking after them about their needs or concerns.
Outside of hospital, the survey showed evidence of gaps in the support available for people with cancer. Of those who said that their GP practice was involved in their cancer treatment, less than half (44%) said that they “definitely” received the right amount of support. Similarly, around one in six respondents (16%) indicated that they would have liked more emotional support at home from community or voluntary services after their cancer treatment had finished.
Commenting on the findings, Chris Graham, CEO at Picker, said:
“Whilst it is pleasing that most people report positive experiences of cancer care in hospital, today’s results show too many issues around personalisation. Understanding people’s needs and involving them in decisions about their care and treatment are fundamental to person centred care, as exemplified in the Picker Principles of Person Centred Care. Too many people with cancer are reporting that their needs were not discussed and they were not as involved as they wanted to be, and providers must prioritise improvement in these areas.
“The results are intended to support planning and improvement across health and care. We know that many organisations already value the national cancer patient experience survey for the insight it offers. This year we are pleased to have been able to include new outputs, such as reporting of results at integrated care system level, which will support wider use of the data. We encourage all health and care bodies involved in the design and delivery of cancer services to review its findings.
“Finally, it is also important to read the results in the context of wider trends in cancer care. Importantly, the survey includes people who have received a diagnosis and accessed hospital care – including people who have been in receipt of care for several years. There is a limitation to what the national results can tell us about the experiences of people being referred for diagnostic services in the wake of the Covid pandemic, where waiting times are known to have increased. This is a subject that will require further investigation, as it is likely to impact on people’s experiences of care”.
Picker is an international charity working across health and social care. We believe in high quality person centred care for all and promote this by measuring and encouraging the use of staff and patient feedback
Almost 60,000 people responded to the survey, which was coordinated by Picker on behalf of NHS England and conducted between October 2021 and February 2022.
The survey included people aged 16 years and over with a confirmed primary diagnosis of cancer and who had been treated in hospital between April and June 2021.
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