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Macmillan says around 18,000 cancer patient files lost every year


Around 18,000 cancer patients have their medical files lost every year in hospitals, while 15% say they suffer humiliation at the hands of nurses, according to charity research.

A poll for the charity Macmillan Cancer Support found 11% of cancer patients admitted to English hospitals every year have their medical file lost by a doctor or nurse.

The charity estimates around 18,000 of the 170,000 admitted to hospital have their file lost, which could impact on treatment.

The YouGov survey of 2,217 adults living with cancer also revealed that just over one in five (21%) had felt patronised by hospital staff.

Some 15% of patients said they had felt humiliated by the nurses treating them at some point.

One in seven (14%) cancer patients who requested help to go to the toilet said they were forced to wait at least 30 minutes for assistance and 1% were left for at least two hours, the survey revealed.

Some 12% of patients said they had a toilet accident while waiting for help.

The poll also found that one in 10 patients staying overnight in hospital was examined on an open ward or with the curtain round their bed partly open.

Mike Hobday, director of policy and research at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “The lack of basic care, dignity and respect experienced by cancer patients in hospital is shocking.

“Giving patients a positive experience when they’re in hospital is as important as good medical care but sadly there’s still a culture in some hospitals where hitting targets is put before the compassionate care of patients.”

Mr Hobday called on NHS England not to scrap the National Cancer Patient Experience Survey, which is under review.

“The National Cancer Patient Experience Survey has been hugely effective as a warning system for hospitals to improve their care. It is vital that it continues. Not only is it an essential way to drive improvements in cancer care, but it also provides a voice for thousands of cancer patients.”

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Readers' comments (3)

  • Let's face it. The same could be said about any patient with any conditon or reason to be in hospital.
    I had cancer 10 years ago. There were times when things were less than perfect. But overwhelmingly, I was given excellent care, by smart and compassionate professionals. I am a wife, a mum, a full time nurse and I am still here because of those people. I would like to see the survey that records how many days I sat through chemotherapy watching the staff give such brilliant care, not taking breaks and running themselves ragged. Turning up early and leaving late. The heartbreak when they lost someone they had got to know over a long journey through treatment.
    I'm sick of hearing the negatives. It really isn't the true picture.

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  • Completely agree with the above comment. I'm a nurse and often miss breaks, stay late come on duty early as do most of my collegues. Yet all I hear in the press is how rubbish and how uncaring nurses are.

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  • Anonymous | 11-Aug-2013 1:46 pm

    it seems despite the very best efforts of a vast number of nurses the demand still grossly outstrips the supply preventing many patients from receiving the care they expect or need.

    surely there needs to be a collaborative effort to find the best solutions for all including optimal working conditions to enable nurses to provide this deficient care rather than continuing to point the finger at whose fault it might be even though it is recognised that the press may or may not be presenting the most accurate picture. it should suffice for everybody to go home at the end of the day knowing they have done all they could and their very best for the patients in their care no matter what is reported in the media.

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