Lothian cancer patients need more support: survey

MOST cancer patients in the Lothians are happy with hospital care but many are still missing out on vital support, a new survey has found.

Tuesday, 7th June 2016, 9:17 am
Updated Tuesday, 7th June 2016, 10:27 am
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Health Secretary Shona Robison meet Susan Selkirk, Laura Fitzsimmons and Macmillan Cancer Support Scotland's Janice Preston. Picture: Julie Bull

Around 95 per cent of patients rated their care positively but less than half of respondents felt they were given enough support by health and social services during treatment.

The first ever Scottish Cancer Patient Experience Survey also revealed that only 52 per cent of 1000 Lothian patients surveyed were informed about financial support by hospital staff, and 19 per cent were not given information on how cancer would impact on daily life.

Cancer campaigners called for efforts to close the “truly startling” gulf between the experience of patients with a care plan and those without.

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Janice Preston, Macmillan’s head in Scotland, said: “The gulf in the patient experience had by those who had a care plan compared to those who didn’t is truly startling, particularly when it comes to accessing emotional, practical and financial support.”

Just 22 per cent of Lothian patients had a care plan, and these patients responded more positively across all 50 questions.

Ms Preston added: “These results tell us that while care is generally very good, the wider needs of patients are often being overlooked.”

Speaking at the launch of the survey at the Western General Hospital, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “It is heartening to know that in the majority of cases, patients are satisfied with the care they receive.

“We know there is more to be done and that’s why earlier this year we announced our £100 million cancer strategy, which makes clear the importance of listening to what people with cancer are saying about what matters to them, and acting on what they tell us.”

Calls were made for urgent action to improve support.

Alison Johnstone, Green health spokesperson and Lothian MSP, said: “Of those who need care at home, it’s a concern that only half say they are getting enough support, and similarly only half of those at home after treatment are receiving enough care.

“It is clear that greater investment is required to provide appropriate levels of care at home.

Liberal Democrat health spokesman Alex Cole-Hamilton added: “Doctors and nurses treating people suffering from cancer do fantastic work but if we look behind the headline figures of this survey there are causes for concern.

“Boosting services which assist with the wider emotional and practical needs clearly needs to be addressed during the implementation of the new cancer strategy.”