Cancer patients must know where to turn for support, says charity

The emotional, practical and financial needs of many cancer patients in Scotland are not being met, according to a charity.

According to a Macmillan Cancer Support survey documenting patients’ experiences of care, a total of 40% of around 5,000 respondents said they did not feel they had received enough care and support from health or social services during their treatment.

The figure rose to 50% for the level of care after treatment.

Three in 10 of the survey’s respondents (30%) were given a care plan, while just over half (51%) were given a written note of all the treatments they received.

When asked about their overall experience of care, however, the vast majority of patients (95%) responded positively, with 97% stating they were always treated with dignity and respect by healthcare professionals.

Around seven in 10 people (69%) found it easy to travel to their cancer care appointments and just over half of respondents (53%) experienced no difficulties with their travel.

Janice Preston, of Macmillan Scotland, welcomed that the number of people reporting an overall positive experience of care had risen.

She urged the Scottish Government to ensure all patients are provided with a personalised care plan and that their needs are met.

Ms Preston said: “It’s great news that people overwhelmingly rate their experience of care as good and it’s really positive to see there have been some areas of improvement from the first survey.

“However, it’s clear the emotional, practical and financial needs of many people are still not being met and that some people aren’t receiving care plans, despite the positive impact we know they have on people’s care.”

She added: “Cancer can affect every aspect of life, causing problems from debt to depression.

“It’s essential that people know where to turn for support. Providing everyone with cancer in Scotland with a care plan would ensure people received personalised care and all their individual needs are met.

“We look forward to working closely with the Scottish Government to make sure every cancer patient in the country is offered this as soon as possible.”

Scottish cabinet reshuffle
Jeane Freeman says patient feedback is vital (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said the Scottish Government’s £850 million Waiting Times Improvements Plan would provide significant investment towards upgrades, including in diagnostics.

She said: “Being diagnosed with cancer can be very traumatic for individuals and their families – and it is vital we provide the best possible care.

“That’s why patient feedback is crucial. The results of this survey will support us in making further improvements in cancer care across Scotland and we will work to ensure all patients have the information they need about their treatment and support.

“I expect health boards to listen to what people with cancer are saying about what matters to them and make improvements based on their views.”

Scottish Labour health spokeswoman Monica Lennon urged Ms Freeman to tell MSPs how she will aim to improve the experience of cancer patients in the country.

Ms Lennon said: “Too many patients are not receiving enough care and support from health and social care services after their treatment, whilst many feel they have been left in the dark when it comes to accessing the financial help that they need.

“The Health Secretary must look at these findings and return to Parliament to set out how she intends to improve the experience of cancer patients across Scotland.”

A total of 5,001 cancer patients responded to the survey about their experiences in Scotland.

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