Imperial Healthcare Offers Poorest Experience for Cancer Patients

Local trust bottom of Macmillan's league table for second year

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Shaping a Healthier Future

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Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, which includes local hospitals Charing Cross and Hammersmith, has come bottom of a league table measuring the experiences of cancer patients across England.

According to new data released by Macmillan Cancer Support Imperial is the poorest performing trust for the second year running. It is among nine NHS Trusts in London at the very bottom of the league table.

The league table compares the performance of hospitals when it comes to a range of patients' experiences while being treated, including: whether their diagnosis and treatment options were explained clearly to them; whether they felt supported in their care; and whether they felt they were treated with respect.

Macmillan says patient experience is as vital as treatment to a cancer patient’s quality of life.

Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust scored particularly badly on areas such as: whether outpatients were seen early or within 30 minutes of appointments (54% compared with 70% national average) while patients' ease of access to their clinical nurse specialists went down (60% compared with 66% in 2010).

However more patients had their first appointment with a hospital doctor as soon as they thought was necessary (76% compared with 70% in 2010).

Ciarán Devane, Chief Executive of Macmillan Cancer Support, says: "Though many hospitals have made an improvement, far too many cancer patients are being let down by hospitals failing to provide an adequate level of care. Patient experience and non-clinical needs must be given as much priority as medical activities.

"Patient experience is one of the Government’s five key measures for success in the NHS, so Trusts need to take heed and work with Macmillan and others to urgently improve the care they offer cancer patients. I am encouraged many Trusts are taking this seriously.

"Imperial, while still at the bottom of the table, is committed to addressing the problem and working well with Macmillan and cancer patients. But these things take time, and won’t happen if they do not have sustained, top-level commitment."

The research also reveals that breast cancer patients in England have the best patient experience, while sarcoma patients continue to have the poorest.

Professor Jane Maher, Chief Medical Officer of Macmillan Cancer Support and Clinical Oncologist, adds: "Hospitals are constantly having to hit targets around cleanliness and safety but not for how you treat a person.

"This needs to change. It is absolutely vital that patient experience is prioritised as it can make such a real difference to how patients recover from gruelling cancer treatment."

Other areas for concern highlighted in the survey were whether patients were given enough support from health and social services when they left hospital; whether they were given the right emotional support; or told about financial information. The survey does not cover the medical treatments they received, such as standards of chemotherapy or surgery. 

Macmillan has produced a Top Tips Guide for Patient Experience to help Trusts that need to improve their patient experience. It provides practical steps on how hospitals can improve.

If you or someone close to you would like support on what you can expect going through your treatment, or for support coping with cancer, call 0808 808 00 00 or visit

The new research is published as local people continue to campaign against controversial plans to scrap the A&E departments at Hammersmith Hospital, as well as the A&E and hyper acute stroke unit at Charing Cross, were unveiled by hospital bosses in June.

It also follows the news, revealed by Hammersmith MP Andy Slaughter, that Imperial Healthcare NHS Trust are making cuts of £62 million this on top of £45 million made last year, including 7% in clinical areas.

A group which includes residents and Andy Slaughter has launched a campaign, Save Hammersmith and Fulham Hospitals, with a website and plans to join a march on Parliament in September 15.

The campaign has its own twitter hashtag #SaveHFNHS and an independent petition which aims to get 10,000 signatures and is planning to offer advice on the NHS Consultation on the plans which it calls Shaping a Healthier Future.

H&F Council has also been running a campaign against the proposals – joined by a broad coalition of politicians, businesses and residents from a range of backgrounds – and has warned that local people will be left dangerously far away from emergency care out of borough, if the NHS plans go ahead.

The council has organised a public scrutiny meeting on September 18 where hospital bosses will take questions from residents and a panel of experts. The council has also appointed a former NHS Chief Executive, Tim Rideout, to help scrutinise the NHS business case.

The Save Our Hospitals public meeting is at Hammersmith Town Hall on Tuesday, September 18 at 7pm.

You can also add your signature to the petitions at Save Charing Cross and Save Hammersmith.

This meeting is followed by a consultation roadshow in Fulham held by the NHS the following day, September 19 from 2pm till 8pm at Fulham Broadway Methodist Church, 452 Fulham Road.

The NHS Consultation, Shaping a Healthier Future lasts until October 8 and you can respond to the consultation online or request a full copy of the consultation document by emailing, calling freephone number 0800 881 5209 or writing to FREEPOST SHAPING A HEALTHIER FUTURE CONSULTATION (This must be written in capital letters and on one line. You will not need a stamp.)

August 30, 2012