Cancer patients rate London’s hospitals the worst in England

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: (Published 30 August 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e5864
  1. Ingrid Torjesen
  1. 1London

Hospital trusts in London have been ranked bottom in a league table rating cancer patients’ experience, issued by Macmillan Cancer Support. Trusts in the north of England have come out top.1

Nine London trusts featured in the bottom 10, meaning that patients who were treated there were the least satisfied with their care, and not a single trust in the capital made it into the top 10 trusts that patients rated the best.

Patients considered Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust to be the worst trust in England, rating it bottom for the second year running.

Macmillan Cancer Support developed the league table using data released by the Department of Health in the National Cancer Patient Experience Survey two weeks ago.2 Cancer patients’ experience was based on measures such as whether diagnosis and treatment options were explained clearly; whether they felt supported in their care; and whether they thought they were treated with respect.

Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust was rated the best trust in the country by patients for the second year running, followed by South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust, Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, and Gateshead Heath NHS Foundation Trust.

Ciarán Devane, chief executive of Macmillan Cancer Support, said hospitals needed to give patient experience and non-clinical needs as much priority as medical activities because patient experience was as vital as treatment to a cancer patient’s quality of life.

“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,” he said.

Commenting on the poor performance of London trusts, Andy Mitchell, medical director of NHS London, said, “There are many areas of excellence within the NHS in London. However, we know that the quality of care experienced by cancer patients can vary and so we are working to ensure a consistently high standard across the capital.”

“A groundbreaking new approach to cancer care has been launched which brings together all the cancer care providers across London and beyond, using their joint resources and expertise to provide the best possible outcome for every patient,” he said.

The worst performing trust, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, scored particularly poorly on outpatients being seen within 30 minutes of appointment times (54% compared with a national average of 70%), and having easy access to their clinical nurse specialist.

A spokesperson for Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust acknowledged that its performance was below standard and said that the trust was working with Macmillan Cancer Support, other cancer charities, and patient groups to improve the situation.

“We have listened to patient feedback and have implemented a number of improvement programmes,” the spokesperson said. These include introducing information prescriptions to ensure patients receive the right information when they need it and reviewing the roles of clinical nurse specialists “to guarantee they spend the optimum amount of time possible on patient facing activities.”

The research also showed that breast cancer patients in England have the best patient experience, followed by those with skin, prostate, and lung cancer. Sarcoma patients reported the worst experience.


Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e5864