We spoke to people who had pancreatic cancer about the care they had. People were keen to praise the care they had in the NHS but had not been happy with it at times. They talked about the
- Speed of diagnosis
- Different services and facilities that were available
- How attentive health professionals were,
Adrian had on the whole found the health professionals he had met helpful, sympathetic and knowledgeable. Tony said that he could not fault the care he had received. William spoke highly of the specialist nurse who kept him informed before his operation. Others praised the way their surgeons had explained what would happen.
Richard had a consultant who really knew him and who treated him as an individual. He greatly valued the continuity of care.
When his mother was ill Hugh had great admiration for the NHS. The doctors were marvellous and…
John was very impressed by the doctors and nurses. He observed that the junior doctors in…
Many people spoke highly of their nursing care in the intensive care unit and on the wards. Davinder was most impressed by the way the nurses changed the sheets while she was still in bed. Lesley said the ward nurses were always there when she needed them. Some remembered the excellent care they had received from specialist nurses, either after surgery or while having chemotherapy.
Richard had a nurse he could ring or email at any time for advice. Vicky had a specialist nurse who would visit her at home. Alison praised the radiotherapists and Helen said the physiotherapists were ‘great’. Ben was well cared for and supported by his district nurse and others spoke very highly of their Macmillan, palliative care or hospice nurses (see ‘Other sources of support’).
Vicky found the nursing care ‘brilliant’ on the ward during the day. After she left hospital she…
After Helens operation the physiotherapists helped her to get up and walk, and gave her…
Some aspects of NHS care were not as positive, however. Some people were upset that their doctors had taken so long to make a diagnosis.
Others were concerned about poor doctor-patient communication, and poor communication between hospital doctors and GPs. John, for example, thought that there should have been better communication between his wife’s surgeon and his wife’s GP. His wife, Ann, had been given high doses of painkillers, which made her vomit and made her very drowsy. Her GP found it hard to adjust the dose without more information from the surgeon and sometimes a GP could not reach the consultant at short notice.
When John’s wife needed to change her drugs because of side effects her GP was not sure how to…
Other people complained about various aspects of care, such as mixed sex wards, lack of hygiene, and their nursing.
Ann said that some of the nursing had been wonderful but some had been terrible. Some nurses didn’t seem to know how to make patients comfortable. Ann said that nurses spent time ‘chatting away’ at the nurses’ station when she needed them to make her feel better. Fred also said that the nursing care had been mixed. He thought that some nurses were ‘very nice’ but others had been a ‘bit rougher’. He also thought that there had been a shortage of nurses at night-time and that some of the auxiliary nurses on duty at night had been very noisy.
After Bobs operation some of the nursing was very good but some was awful. Bob was…
After her operation Ann complained about lack of communication between junior doctors, particularly at weekends. A few days after the operation she got a life-threatening infection. She felt that this was nearly missed because she couldn’t always get a doctor’s attention.
William said that the nurses were overworked and had no time to stop and talk. A great deal seemed to depend on which doctors and nurses were on duty and how busy they were at the time.
Carol got back to her ward after a stay in the intensive care unit and the nurses got her name wrong. She was upset and wondered if the nurses knew who they were dealing with.
Phil felt that the nursing in the clinic where he had his chemotherapy was a bit ‘impersonal’.
After surgery Ann was concerned because the junior doctors did not seem interested in her…
Nursing was not consistently good and professionals did not always treat Theadoras mother with…
Teamwork between the different professionals in the cancer unit was very important.
Fred said that the whole team came to the daily morning ward round and then different members of the team came back individually. They would explain their particular area of expertise and offer help if needed. Several of these specialists would give their contact details so that they could be reached easily both while the patient was in hospital and then at home. William was introduced to a link nurse before his operation and has spoken to him regularly since. Carol had a chemotherapy nurse whom she could phone whenever she needed something.
Where teamwork worked less well, patients like Davinder felt very let down. Davinder felt that the physiotherapists should have prepared her for what to expect when she got home. She was unprepared for difficulties, like getting out of bed. She also thought that the senior nurse should have made sure she had a home help and personal care. Donna’s district nurses had been very nice but she sometimes had to wait too long for them to arrive to give her injections of painkillers.
Donna was very upset when the district nurse did not arrive for hours and so could not give her…
The team approach was equally important in General Practices where GP’s were able to organise district nursing, physiotherapy, counselling and other services directly.
Some people were happy that their GPs had given them priority treatment. They had no difficulty getting appointments or prescriptions, regular telephone contact and home visits, and referrals for additional support.
Lilian said she had ‘wonderful treatment’. Her GP had been very supportive and had told her that she could visit the surgery at any time for advice., She also offered to visit her at home if the need arose. The receptionists at Lesley’s practice allow her to phone for prescriptions which would not be allowed normally. Ben particularly appreciated the way his GP surgery would give him quick appointments and enabled him to renew his prescriptions through the pharmacy.
A few people had private health care. Alison said that medical and nursing care that she had experienced had been ‘brilliant’. After the operation she went into the High Dependency Unit. Later she had her own room where the nurses had plenty of time to chat with her.