The latest results of the Cancer Patient Experience Survey for the NHS in England show a worrying decline in the number of men with prostate cancer who say they've been given the name of a Clinical Nurse Specialist for support. Prostate Cancer UK's Jade Fairfax takes a closer look at the figures and explains and why things could be even worse next year.

28 Jul 2017
In - Policy Blog

Last week, NHS England published the results from its sixth National Cancer Patient Experience Survey.

The results are important as they are used to drive improvements in care for people with cancer across England, by promoting best practice and reducing regional variations in patients' experiences.

It’s positive to see that there has been an improvement in overall patient experience for men with prostate cancer and, as a whole, the picture is improving across the country. But on closer inspection, it’s disappointing to see that men with prostate cancer continue to face variation in their quality of patient experience, depending on where in the country they live.

Access to specialist nurses down on last year

A key area we think needs to be highlighted is the variation in men accessing a Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS). Overall, 88.4% of men with prostate cancer said they were given the name of a CNS. Disappointingly, this figure has gone down slightly from last year, when it was 89.1%, despite the clear benefits that specialist nurses are known to bring to both patients and Trusts.

However, of real concern is the continued variation in access, depending on where men live. The figure ranges from 52% to 100% across Trusts and this gap in provision is simply not good enough.

We believe that every man with prostate cancer should have access to the expertise of nurse specialists throughout their treatment and care journey, and in relation to their specific needs. There is strong evidence that demonstrates the allocation of a dedicated nurse specialist has a positive impact on patient experience and outcomes, so it’s worrying to see increasing variation in men getting access to a named CNS.

Serious concerns about future number of nurses

With prostate cancer set to be the most common cancer by 2030, there is an increasing need for more nurses. We have serious concerns about the nursing workforce’s ability to meet the current and future needs of the growing numbers of men with prostate cancer. That’s why our Change Delivery Team are working to address issues with variation and inequity of access.

We will work with key policy and decision makers across the UK to ensure a sustainable approach to prostate cancer care is implemented, and CNS workforce gaps are met in relation to increased incidence and prevalence of the disease. We want to see investment in CNS’s and best practice models of care. And we want the current workforce to be supported to develop specialist skills now and in the future.

Find out more about what we're doing to improve men's access to Cancer Nurse Specialists.

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