Cancer: “It’s not just about the disease — it’s about treating the person!”
So said Pat Morrison, Chair of ICAGG (the Improving Cancer Care Action Group), at the members’ event on Cancer Services on 16th October. Pat works to ensure that the voices of patients and carers are heard by those who are designing and delivering cancer services at the Trust.
The harsh facts are that one in three people will have cancer at some point during their lives and one in four will die from it. However, survival rates are improving and lifestyle changes are helping with prevention.
On average about 600 people are referred to Ashford & St Peter’s Hospitals to be tested for cancer each month, and about 10% will find out that they have cancer. Around 60 further patients are diagnosed with cancer each month having come to A&E for another reason.
Dr Barry Quinn, Macmillan Consultant Lead Nurse for Cancer and Palliative Care, described how the Cancer Services Team is aiming for improved outcomes along with better care. For example, patients who come in for a scope examination of their intestines can often have a CT scan on the same visit if the scope gives cause for concern – thus saving 14-28 days waiting for a further appointment. Ambitions to improve ‘end of life care’ were also discussed, including the Liverpool Care Pathway which has recently had some negative media coverage. However, Dr. Quinn said that it was a very helpful protocol that can guide care in the last few days of life but that the patient (when possible) and family should always be included in discussions about the plan of care.
Comments from cancer patients at Ashford St Peter’s Hospitals include the following:
“The treatment I have received from the haematology clinic at St Peter's has been excellent. The doctor and nursing staff are very caring and I always feel as if I am someone special and not just a statistic.”
“The care and treatment I receive from all the team is excellent. I have been treated with breast cancer for the past eight years and even though I am nearly 90 years of age I am still treated with the utmost care.”
Written by Andrew Ryland, Public Governor for Runnymede