NHS 'Failing' Cancer Patients in Scotland

Daily Mail (London), August 15, 2008 | Go to article overview

NHS 'Failing' Cancer Patients in Scotland


Byline: Jamie Beatson

THE NHS is 'failing' cancer sufferers and must make 'radical' changes to how it cares for seriously ill patients, a new report said yesterday.

Researchers discovered no 'culture of caring' in NHS cancer services - meaning patients feel disrespected and isolated.

The Cancer Care Research Centre (CCRC) at Stirling University carried out a three-year study of more than 2,000 cancer patients, carers, oncologists and policy makers.

It found cancer care could be improved in Scotland - which lags behind other European countries in terms of survival rates and has 27,000 new cases diagnosed every year - if the NHS focused on overall patient experience as well as treating the disease.

The researchers called for doctors to have a greater focus on emotional and psychological issues, as well as the management of symptoms in patients.

They have suggested a new model for cancer care in Scotland, calling for a shift from a purely disease-focused approach to one which also focuses on the experiences of patients and their carers.

The group also found that the Scottish public fears cancer and continues to associate it with death, despite survival rates for all cancers increasing by 17 per cent for men and 13 per cent for women between 2000 and 2004.

Nora Kearney, Professor of Cancer Care at Stirling University, said more had to be done, adding: 'We are still failing people with cancer in Scotland.

A new model for cancer care is required that addresses the whole experience of the patient and not just management of their disease.

'We have to treat the person as well as the disease.

'As well as making sure people in Scotland can have the best medical management for their cancer, we must also provide support for the social and psychological issues that people with cancer have identified as being important to them.

'Although Scotland has made significant improvements in services for people with cancer over the past decade, it is evident from this research that, in relation to improving the experiences of people affected by cancer, more needs to be done. …

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