CARE for cancer patients has improved significantly in Worcestershire in the last year, according to new figures.
Results of a national study by NHS England show patients are much happier with many important aspects of their care than they were 12 months ago.
More patients are satisfied overall with the care and treatment they receive and some of the biggest improvements have come in involving patients with decisions about their treatment, keeping them informed and answering questions or concerns.
The results of the National Cancer Patient Experience Programme 2012/13 survey have been hailed as “fantastic news” by cancer survivor Paul Crawford, of Highfield Close in Droitwich.
Mr Crawford is a long-term campaigner for better cancer services in Worcestershire and now sits as a patient representative on the board of Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust.
He said: “There are tremendous improvements and as far as I am concerned it is a much better picture than it was 12 months ago.
“I am very pleased that this has come out the way it has, especially that people are being given a lot more information, if they want it, to allay the fear and concern that cancer can give.”
The annual survey sees thousands of patients at 155 hospital trusts up and down the country asked 70 questions covering all aspects of their cancer treatment and care. Results from 765 patients about their treatment by Worcestershire Acute NHS Hospitals Trust show that 88 per cent rated their care overall as “very good” or “excellent” – up from 82 per cent the previous year.
The trust is in the top 20 per cent of the country in six different areas, including staff doing all they can to control patients’ pain and the side effects of chemotherapy.
Last year the trust featured in the bottom 20 per cent for 21 different categories, but this year that has fall- en dramatically to just four.
One of those areas where Worcestershire needs to improve is in ensuring patients know the name of the person caring for them – with almost two in 10 of the patients surveyed saying they did not know the name of the nurse in charge of their care.
Two in 10 feel doctors could “talk in front of patients as if they are not there” and improvements are also needed in staff providing information about support groups and clear written information about test results.
“There are only four areas left and let’s hope that next year we can be 100 per cent compliant,” said Mr Crawford. “People in Worcestershire are starting to get even better services and we want to provide the very best.”
Overall more than three-quarters of the areas covered by the study have shown some improvement, with 11 of them showing “significant statistical improvement”.
Adel Makar, the trust’s lead cancer clinician, believes patients can look forward to even more improvements when a new £22.5 million radiotherapy unit, currently being built at Worcestershire Royal Hospital, opens in late 2014.
“It is great to see that we have improved in so many areas. “It is a hugely positive message for patients and staff. We aim to give all our cancer patients the very best care and to support them throughout their patient journey,” he said. “I believe we will achieve even better results when our new radiotherapy centre opens next year.”