Tag Archives: Cancer

Positive patient experience helps people to live with cancer

Improving how cancer patients experience treatment and care is one of Macmillan’s top priorities.

Our latest report, The C-word [PDF 2.9MB], has revealed that 90% of people with cancer say they are still living their lives as normally as they can. As the report states, this starts with them having a positive experience of care from diagnosis onwards.

Knowing what patients think about the care they’ve received has important benefits. Statistics about waiting times, stage at diagnosis and survival rates can all show how well the healthcare system is addressing cancer as a medical condition. But measuring patient experience gives us a distinct perspective on how effectively services are meeting people’s individual needs.

For 1 in 10 people in the UK, cancer is their biggest fear. It is described as ‘the worst news imaginable’ by around half of those diagnosed.  By understanding their experience as they move through the system, we can find ways for services to develop, adapt and reduce the impact of cancer.

That’s why Macmillan has worked to establish a Cancer Patient Experience Survey (CPES) in each UK nation. Questions include how patients were told they had cancer, what information they received about their condition and available support, if they felt involved in decisions and what sort of care they received after leaving hospital. These important aspects of care all contribute to better outcomes.

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In Northern Ireland, the first CPES took place in 2015 and found that 92% of patients rated their overall care highly. Specific questions resulted in some significant variations among cancer types, but the overall picture is very encouraging and the new evidence will help to address gaps. We hope the survey will be repeated in 2018.

It’s clear how far cancer services have come, but demand has increased to the point where any slowing of progress could lead to worsening outcomes. In the UK, there are now around 360,000 new cancer diagnoses each year, outnumbering weddings by more than 70,000. Compared to a generation ago, people with cancer are now twice as likely to survive at least 10 years after being diagnosed.

Some key steps must be taken to uphold and improve levels of patient experience throughout the cancer journey. We need to see ongoing investment to transform healthcare and ensure services are suitable now and into the future.

In addition, Northern Ireland remains the only part of the UK and Ireland without a current strategy for cancer services. Without this, we risk limiting the impact of public spending on cancer care and failing to invest adequately in new developments.

Ultimately, we must continue to enable people with cancer to live the life they want to live.

Programme for Government must improve cancer care

The new Programme for Government must be able to address the physical, emotional, practical and financial impact of cancer.

That’s the key message running through our response to the first stage of consultation on what Northern Ireland’s devolved government should aim to achieve during the next five years.

Macmillan campaigned before the Assembly election in May to make sure that cancer care remained high on the political agenda. We were delighted that many parties made clear commitments around cancer and several also included our specific calls in their manifestos.

The NI Executive is now creating its Programme for Government, which is structured in a new way. It’s using an outcomes framework to set the overall aims before action plans are developed on how to achieve these.

Because the framework has to be agreed before detailed plans can be drawn up, the Executive is using a two-stage consultation process to capture the views of the public.

Macmillan welcomes a number of commitments made in the draft Framework. These include reducing health inequality and improving patient experience, mental health and care services, as well as increasing quality of life for people with disabilities.

Our response calls for a range of additional goals including better end of life care, support for carers and a reduction in fuel poverty.

When the agreed framework is published in autumn, we will recommend specific actions that could help the Executive achieve its goals and improve the lives of people affected by cancer.

We’re also watching for announcements about a proposed cancer strategy for Northern Ireland, something which several political parties committed to in their manifesto. Any strategy that is developed must meet the needs of people living with cancer, both during and after treatment.

Macmillan looks forward to building on our track record of working with the Northern Ireland Executive to develop, improve and modernise cancer support services.

In the meantime, please get in touch with our Policy Officer Michael if you’d like to read Macmillan NI’s full response to the Programme for Government Framework.

Email mmoore@macmillan.org.uk to request a copy.