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First national Welsh survey on experiences of cancer patients highlights importance of nurses in cancer journey

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Nurses are providing a supportive and sympathetic service to cancer patients in Wales, according to the first Welsh cancer patient experience survey.

The survey – produced by the Welsh Government in partnership with Macmillan Cancer Support in Wales – surveyed 7,532 people across Wales who received a cancer diagnosis between June 2012 and March 2013.


It found 88% of patients were given the name of a clinical nurse specialist (CNS), and those with access to dedicated named staff felt much more positively about their treatment than those without them.

An overwhelming 92% of respondents said their CNS definitely listened carefully to them and 92% got understandable answers to questions all or most of the time. 78% said their CNS was easy to contact.

Despite only 60% of patients saying there were always or nearly always enough nurses on duty to care for them in hospital, 86% of patients said ward nurses did not talk in front of them as if they were not there, with 73% of patients saying they had confidence in all of the ward nurses treating them.

A good patient experience will help Health Boards in Wales deliver more person-centred care, a commitment in the Welsh Government’s Cancer Delivery Plan.

Macmillan Wales is working with the Health Boards and the Welsh Government to highlight best practice and make improvements where needed.

For example, the plan says that by 2016 all patients will be given a full assessment of their needs and be involved in developing a written care plan.

However, just 22% of patients said they had been offered a written care plan while 58% had been offered the opportunity to discuss their needs and concerns.

The survey also found 30% of patients were not told they could bring a friend or relative with them when they were diagnosed with cancer.

Every Health Board has been sent a copy of Macmillan’s toolkit, which highlights good examples of person-centred care in Wales and how Macmillan can work with them to improve patients’ experiences. It can be downloaded here.

Macmillan also offers training for both Macmillan and non-Macmillan nurses. For information, contact Macmillan Wales on 01656 867960.

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