BBC: NHS cancer patients 'missing out on basics information'

10 February, 2020

Extracts and a comment from me below. Full text here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-51439146

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Cancer patients in England are missing out on basic information about their diseases because of staff shortages in the NHS, a charity has warned.

Macmillan Cancer Support said at least 120,000 patients a year felt topics including treatments and side effects were not fully explained.

The charity blamed "soaring" staffing pressures, which left people "in the dark" about how to prepare...

Macmillan asked more than 70,000 people who have undergone cancer treatment in England about their care.

More than a third (39%) of those asked said the longer-term side-effects of treatment were not fully explained - the charity said that equated to about 120,000 a year.

A quarter of people also said they did not have the possible side effects explained prior to the start of treatment.

And one in five said there were not always enough nurses on duty to care for them.

Macmillan warned that without this information and support, patients "may feel uncertain about treatment, feel forced to give up a job or feel unsure about how to prepare for the impact cancer might have on them physically, financially and emotional".

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Comment (Neil PW): This is a reminder that lack of access to basic health information is a global problem that also affects high-income countries. The problem is attributed to 'staff shortages in the NHS'. It is worth reflecting that the UK has 2.8 practising doctors per thousand population, as compared (for example) with just 0.04 doctors per thousand in Tanzania (0.2 in Kenya; 0.4 in Nigeria; 0.8 in India [1]). The implications are clear.

[1] https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SH.MED.PHYS.ZS

For this reason it is *especially* important to empower, as far as possible, the general public in LMICs with the healthcare information they need to protect their own health and the health of others.

Best wishes, Neil

Coordinator, HIFA Project on Information for Citizens, Parents and Children

http://www.hifa.org/projects/citizens-parents-and-children

Let's build a future where people are no longer dying for lack of healthcare information - Join HIFA: www.hifa.org

HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health campaign (Healthcare In

formation For All - www.hifa.org ), a global community with almost 20,000 members in 180 countries, interacting on six global forums in four languages (English, French, Spanish, Portuguese). Twitter: @hifa_org FB: facebook.com/HIFAdotORG neil@hifa.org