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Emergency cancer care 'fragmented'

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Hospitals must improve the emergency care offered to cancer patients, according to a new report.

Many cancer patients who are admitted to hospital when their condition suddenly deteriorates receive “fragmented care”.

The report from the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Radiologists (RCR) urged healthcare staff to provide more coordinated treatment.

It found that many patients are unsure of what to do if their condition suddenly worsens and they need emergency treatment.

Many of them end up receiving care from several different specialists, the report found.

It concludes that staff must coordinate decision-making and improve communication with patients to allow them to play a more active role in decisions about their treatment.

RCR president Jane Barrett said: “Patient care and joint decision-making must be at the centre of cancer services now and in the future.

“As clinical oncologists an important part of our role is to ensure that a patient understands their treatment and able to decide what is best for them. Cancer treatment cannot be a one-sided process.

“This report gives healthcare professionals recommendations to provide the best care and patients the tools to play an active role in the decisions made about their care.”

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “We want to become one of the best in the world at tackling cancer and that is why our strategy is about making sure that all cancer patients get the right treatment, to a high standard.

“This report will help make sure that patients and carers get more information from professionals about what to expect during their illness and give them the tools to be involved in decisions about their care and treatment.

“This will help patients avoid the need for emergency admissions where possible and improve their experience of care when they need it most.”

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Is it a problem with incomplete and/or inaccurate medical records. One wonders what happens when a patient under treatment falls ill away from their normal cancer centre.

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