Patient experience

We called on all parties to commit to ensuring that every patient, including those with cancer, are treated with the highest levels of dignity and respect, and NHS staff are supported to deliver this.

Too often people with cancer don't get the compassionate care they deserve when at their most vulnerable, and too many NHS staff don't feel properly valued or supported.

The health system as a whole fails to recognise that compassionate care is just as important for patients as clinical effectiveness and patient safety, or that dignity and privacy are basic human rights. But patient experience is crucial.

Evidence suggests that nearly one in five people with cancer feels treated as a set of symptoms rather than being recognised as a person. There is also significant variation in the experience of care of cancer patients across the country depending on their age, ethnicity, the type of cancer they have or where they live.

We know that staff need support to provide the best possible care. In hospitals where staff suffer high levels of discrimination, people with cancer are up to 18 times more likely to receive poor care. However, in the past year less than half of NHS staff have had any training on how to provide a good experience of care.

I was appalled at the mistreatment.

Roy, 64, from Sussex

Roy's story

Roy was diagnosed with testicular cancer in early 2006.

‘I had to go back to hospital after having surgery for testicular cancer because I developed severe swelling.

I was admitted on a weekend so had to wait until the following Monday to be seen by a consultant urologist. I was made to feel like I was just taking up space.

When Monday arrived I was ordered out of my bed so it could be remade and so the cleaners could clean. I couldn’t sit down because of the swelling so I had to prop myself up on the radiator. When I tried to get back in bed, the ward sister told me to get off and raised it up to make it impossible for me to use it. It was like a scene from a ‘Carry On’ film. It turned out I had internal bleeding. I was appalled at the mistreatment.’

We are working to change things for people like Roy and to keep improving cancer patient experience as a top health priority.

Our calls

We called on all parties to commit to ensuring that all patients, including those with cancer, are treated with the highest levels of dignity and respect, and NHS staff are supported to deliver this.

Thanks to your support

The Conservatives made commitments in their manifesto to ensure that English hospitals and GP surgeries are the safest in the world where people are treated with dignity and respect.