Gwent cancer care plans ‘could be better’

MORE work must be done to develop care plans for cancer patients in Gwent, a survey by the charity MacMillan Cancer Support has revealed.

But good foundations have been laid for this, with patients scoring Aneurin Bevan University Health Board highly in terms of involving patients in decisions.

The survey findings are included in the health board’s new cancer delivery plan, which sets out how it is performing in terms of providing cancer services for patients.

Around three-quarters of the more than 250 cancer patients in Gwent surveyed said that they had been involved as much as they wanted to be in decisions about their cancer treatment.

Sixty-one percent also confirmed that they had been offered the chance to discuss their needs in order to put together a care plan. But only just over a fifth of patients said they had been offered a written care plan.

“It is clear that elements of this (developing care plans) are in place, but more needs to be done,” states the board’s cancer delivery plan.

More than 90 per cent of cancer patients surveyed in Gwent said they had been given the name of a clinical nurse specialist who would be in charge of their care, but while the role is firmly established in hospitals, thought must now be given to how this ‘key worker’ role can be developed in primary and community care settings.

The plan also highlights Gwent’s continuing good performance in terms of the proportion of patients on the two recognised cancer treatment pathways who begin their treatments within the target time.

A minimum 98 per cent whose cancer has been diagnosed following a referral for a reason other than suspected cancer should start treatment in 31 days, a target regularly achieved in Gwent.

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