Calls for universal provision of cancer care plans

Patients need more help dealing with the emotional, financial & practical impacts of cancer, survey suggests

Tuesday 30th April 2019

A leading cancer charity has called for every individual diagnosed with cancer in Scotland to be given a care plan, following on from the findings of the second cancer patient experience survey, reported on earlier today.

Head of Macmillan in Scotland, Janice 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.”

While 95% of Scots rated their experience of cancer care highly, 45% did not feel they had enough emotional and psychological support during their treatment. People were less positive about receiving information on financial help and benefits, while only 52% said those helping care for them at home had been given useful information.

Ms Preston 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 Labour has called on the Government to set out how it intends to improve cancer patients’ care.

The party is highlighting findings that 40% of patients ‘were not offered advice on accessing social security, whilst less than a third of those surveyed received a care plan’.

Meanwhile, ‘just half of people reported definitely receiving enough care and support from health or social services after their treatment’.

Scottish Labour’s health spokesperson, Monica Lennon, said:

There is not a single family in Scotland which has not been affected by cancer. That’s why it is so important that patients get the treatment they need and the aftercare they deserve.

It is clear from this survey that there is room for improvement for the SNP government. 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.”

Responding to the survey results, Cabinet Secretary for Health & Sport, Jeane Freeman 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.

Our £850m Waiting Times Improvements Plan will direct significant investment into substantial and sustainable improvements, including diagnostics, which is crucial for cancer care.

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.”