Cancer Care Improvement 'Fantastic'

The results of a survey into the care of cancer patients show Portsmouth is the most-improved NHS Trust in the country.

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% of patients rated their care as very good or excellent. T

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

During a visit to Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust this week, 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: "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."

After meeting patients at the breast cancer unit at the Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham, 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.''

Breast cancer patient Delia Simmonds, 68, from Lee-on-the-Solent, said: "I was treated extremely well, very caring, I was dealt with very quickly. 

"The breast unit is really brilliant, you can't fault it at all."

Another patient, Maryann Murray, 65, from Rowlands Castle, praised the hospital for its speed in treating her and for enabling her recovery at home. 

She said: "Anyone diagnosed with cancer is on a long journey and anything that reduces that journey has to be applauded and I think they have achieved that."

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

Of the 70,000 patients surveyed, 84% 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% said they were treated with respect. 

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."

Macmillan Cancer Support director of services Juliet Bouverie said: "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."

The Department of Health has sent each of the trusts involved their individual reports, so that they can identify areas for improvement.