Essex: Prostate cancer care “not quite good enough”

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- Credit: Contributed

PROSTATE cancer patients in Essex are receiving below average care compared to other areas in the UK, new figures reveal.

According to research carried out by the Department of Health, Essex is one of the lowest performing Cancer Networks in the country, in terms of advice, information and support offered to patients.

Figures show only 19% of prostate cancer patients are given written assessments and care plans, while just 57% find it easy to contact their cancer nurse specialist.

The figures, which are compiled from from the National Cancer Patient Experience Survey for 2011/12, are a stark contrast to those in neighbouring counties.

Anglia Cancer Network, which coordinates care across Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and North Bedfordshire, came out with higher scores in every category.

However, incidence rates and survival rates in Essex are in-line or exceed the national average.

Director of policy at the charity Prostate Cancer UK said: “The figures for Essex are not quote good enough and there’s always room for improvement.

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“Survival rates are better so although treatment is effective it’s more about the care and information that ‘s being given, who is there to support them? Are the side effects of treatment being explained properly? What support is being given if they have financial problems?

“So it’s about the experience of the patient which is just as important.”

Some areas of care in Essex scored better but were still below average.

Just over 70% of patients were gven a complete explanation of tests carried out, 85% were given a choice of different types of treatment and 69% are given written information about their cancer type.

Dr Cant added: “Geographically, Essex is not far away from Anglia which is doing better, so can they share ideas? We are also lobbying Government to introduce a quality checklist which includes 15 points of standards of care and support for patients.

“This isn’t about spending money just about doing things better and there are easy steps that can be taken to turn things around.”

A Dr Alan Lamont, Medical Director of the Essex Cancer Network said: “If you have the bad luck to find you have prostate cancer, your chances of surviving it in Essex are as good as almost anywhere else in the UK.

“However, the recent survey does suugest that in some areas of Essex staff are less good at giving information and advice and putting men in touch with a local support network. These are not trivial issues, and can make an important difference to how men cope with this disease.

“We will look into why care is rated less well in Essex, and work to improve the situation. We do have a coordinated approach across the county, with teams in each hospital.

“Our clinical nurse specialists do provide a point of contact with each patient as their key worker, in accordance with national and local guidelines.”

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