What does the recent Healthwatch report into Cancer services on the Isle of Wight reveal?

Posted by Patricia Wakeford on
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It was interesting to read the latest report from Healthwatch. Some of the issues raised appear inevitable when you consider that the Isle of Wight is an island. However, others are very disappointing.

The report indicates that over 1,000 people on the Isle of Wight were diagnosed with cancer in 2013. The good news is that the death rate from cancer is slightly lower than in England generally.

220 people provided feedback for this report. There were issues with travelling to and from the island, with total travel and appointment time amounting to eight hours in some instances. This will be very tiring and distressing for a person gathering information about their treatment, undergoing treatment or having follow up appointments. In some instances patients cannot face the prospect of travel and do not attend for treatment.

It was heartening to note that staff generally got excellent feedback, although it was felt that doctors were too busy to spend much time with individual patients. I was very surprised to hear that radiotherapy treatment is not available on the island. Patients generally need to travel to Portsmouth or Southampton.

A very worrying comment, is that there appears to be little communication between different services that the patient needs to interact with. Patients would often be passing on information to clinicians. This is less than ideal, as during such a stressful time a patient may not have fully understood or appreciated what they were told.

Many patients said that they could not remember being signposted to support services, which is very disappointing. A diagnosis of cancer makes a patient very vulnerable and lonely. Support is vital to ensure that they get the help that they need. There are many support services available such as the Isle of Wight Cancer Support centre in Newport that offers free complimentary therapies and other services to those affected by cancer.

Recommendations have been made by Healthwatch to include integration of services, managing appointments to minimise travel, coordination of services and noting and actioning any areas that cause a delay in diagnosis of cancer.

We deal with many clients who have suffered a delay in diagnosis of cancer, it is important that all the pieces of the service fit together to make the diagnosis, treatment and follow up for these very vulnerable patients as smooth as possible.

Please contact Patricia Wakeford on 02380857310 if you require further information.

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About the Author

Photograph of Patricia Wakeford

Patricia is a Senior Associate, in our Clinical Negligence team, and is also a qualified midwife with many years of experience working in the NHS.

Patricia Wakeford
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023 8085 7310

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