How well nurses and doctors across acute and community care work together can make all the difference to the experience of cancer patients, indicates a new study.
Based on analysis of data from a nationwide survey of cancer patients, the research suggests those who report lack of co-ordination are significantly more likely to be less satisfied with care overall.
“If one part of the system fails to interact with another, then co-ordinated care easily break down”
The study, led by the University of Exeter Medical School working with University College London, looked at more than 71,000 responses from the 2015 England Cancer Patient Experience Survey.
It found patients who gave a below average score for how well the hospital and community staff who were treating and caring for them worked together were generally almost three times less likely to be happy with their overall care.
Gary Abel, senior lecturer at the University of Exeter Medical School, said the findings emphasised the importance of ensuring seamless care.
“Our research shows that, while all aspects of patient care and experience are important, it is more important that they work well together,” he said.
“If one part of the system fails to interact with another, then co-ordinated care easily break down, much like how a single cog failing can break a whole machine,” he noted.
“It is so important for the NHS to have confident staff”
Macmillan Cancer Support, which funded the research, said good co-ordination of care and communication among NHS staff working in cancer were key, as was having enough staff with the right skills to deliver care.
“Cancer treatment is nearly always one of the most difficult and emotionally fraught experiences someone can go through,” said the charity’s chief executive Lynda Thomas.
“This research shows that healthcare professionals working well together is a vital factor in people having an overall positive view of such a tough time,” she said.
“It is so important for the NHS to have confident staff,” she said. “The new government must ensure that the health service has enough staff with the right skills to care for the growing numbers of people living with cancer.”
The findings also showed that patients who gave a below-average score for feeling involved in decisions about their care and treatment were generally less likely to be satisfied with overall care.
They were 55% more likely to score their overall care seven or less out of 10, according to the findings, which were presented today at the Cancer Data and Outcomes conference in Manchester.