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People diagnosed with cancer feel increasingly positive about the standard and level of care they receive from the NHS.

That’s according to the National Cancer Patient Experience Survey 2016 – the latest edition of an annual survey which asks cancer patients across England for their views on their care. Almost 73,000 people responded to the latest survey, providing answers to 59 questions covering all areas of their cancer care. The results showed a significant rise in positive responses on the previous year, but also signposted some areas where improvement is needed.

Respondents were asked to rate their NHS care on a scale of zero (for very poor) to 10 (for very good). The average rating from the 72,788 responses was 8.74, showing a statistically significant improvement on the previous year’s score. The results also showed a marked improvement in patients’ satisfaction about being seen as soon as they thought necessary for hospital appointments, tests and treatment.

Some of the key findings from the 2016 survey were that:

  • 87.5% of patients said they got their cancer tests at the right time, up from 86.6% last year
  • 78% of respondents said they were definitely involved as much as they wanted to be in decisions about their care
  • 90% of respondents said they were given the name of a Clinical Nurse Specialist who would support them through their treatment. When asked how easy or difficult it had been to contact their Clinical Nurse Specialist, 86% said that it had been “quite easy” or “very easy”
  • 88% of respondents said that, overall, they were always treated with dignity and respect while in hospital
  • 94% of respondents said that hospital staff told them who to contact if they were worried about their condition or treatment after they left hospital.

Previous surveys had flagged up that too many cancer patients felt they were not given enough information about their condition or not sufficiently involved in decisions about their treatment. The latest survey shows a significant improvement in these areas, and in the number of patients who said they were treated well while receiving treatment in hospitals.

However, the 2016 survey also highlights areas for improvement, notably in the provision of community-based and social care as a follow-up to hospital-based treatment for cancer. In other words, too many people felt they were left to their own devices after being sent home from hospital following treatment.

Professor Chris Harrison, National Clinical Director for Cancer at NHS England, said: “The latest data shows cancer survival is now at a record high and this survey confirms that the vast majority of people with cancer are really positive about the NHS care they receive, reporting further improvements over the past year.

“One of our key ambitions is to put cancer patient experience front and centre at a time when the NHS is successfully treating more patients for cancer than ever before, so this positive feedback from patients is an encouraging testament to the hard work of NHS staff.”

The results of the 2016 survey are published in detail on the Quality Health website and can be accessed by clicking here.

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