Older People Living with Cancer

Peer advocates supporting older people affected by cancer

Cancer patients condemn hospital care Some go hungry, receive the wrong drugs or feel so uncared for they consider abandoning treatment

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Cancer patients are going hungry and receiving the wrong drugs while in hospital, with some feeling so badly looked after they even consider abandoning their treatment, a new survey has found.
The findings prompted Macmillan Cancer Support, which commissioned the survey of 2,142 adults in the UK who have cancer, to complain that some people with the disease are being neglected in a way reminiscent of the appalling care seen during the Mid Staffordshire scandal.
Of 358 patients who had been diagnosed within the last two years and had stayed in hospital at least one night to be treated, 122 (34%) said they had needed extra food; 69 said they had not got it.
About 6% of respondents said they had been given the wrong drugs. As about 170,000 cancer patients a year in England end up in hospital, that equates to about 10,000 patients whose health could suffer as a result of such errors, according to Macmillan.
Similarly, 11% of cancer patients usually received important news about their treatment or progress in an open ward or room, 10% had been woken up overnight by cleaners working, and 15% had had to wait over half an hour for their water to be refilled, with 5% waiting at least two hours.
About 7% of respondents, or 12,000 patients a year, said they had felt like dropping out of their treatment early because they felt badly treated by hospital staff.
“This survey sheds a worrying light on the subculture within some parts of the NHS where bad patient experience is acceptable”, said Ciaran Devane, chief executive of Macmillan. Devane is also a board member of NHS England, which last month took over the running of the service.
“We have seen this at its worst in the case of the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, exposed in the Francis inquiry.”
In a separate survey, for ITV News, 34% of adults said they had experienced unacceptable levels of care on the NHS since 2011, though 58% believed the NHS still offered good care overall.
Kath Parson chief executive of OPAAL syas “it is simply totally unacceptable that people are being treated so badly they will give up on treatment, these figures provide us with yet more powerful evidence of the need for patients to be heard and have their wishes about treatment and care not only listened to but responded to in such a way as to make a lasting and positive difference to their cancer experience. Independent volunteer advocates can support patients to get their voices heard, and responded to appropriately. If you are over 50 and have been affected by cancer and live in one of our pilot areas please do contact your local cancer support project, details are listed to the right of this article, where we will do our best to match you with an volunteer advocate who will have some experience of cancer and can support you to speak up about your treatment and care.


Author: kathparson

Chief Executive of Older People's Advocacy Alliance (UK)

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