CALLING FOR IMPROVEMENTS in ovarian cancer care

Andrew joined women affected by ovarian cancer from across the country, to call for local action to address variations in the quality of ovarian cancer services.

New local profiles launched today by the ovarian cancer charity Ovacome bring together a range of information about the quality of ovarian cancer services across England to help drive improvements where they are needed the most.  The profiles are designed to highlight examples of good practice, and identify areas where more work is needed to improve the outcomes and experiences of everyone affected by the disease.

Despite recent progress, the outcomes of ovarian cancer patients living in the UK are still poorer than in comparable countries.  As the fifth most common cancer among women in the UK, and one of the harder cancers to detect, more effort is required by policy makers and those within the NHS to improve the care and support available to patients.  One of the key priorities remains increasing awareness and understanding of the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer amongst women and clinicians to help tackle late diagnosis.

The key findings of the quality profiles, include:

  • There is over a 15% difference in one-year survival for ovarian cancer between the best and worst performing areas of the country.
  • 37% of ovarian cancer patients had to see their GP more than twice about their symptoms before being referred for diagnostic tests.
  • Almost 30% of ovarian cancer patients in England were diagnosed following an emergency admission to hospital.
  • Less than a quarter of ovarian cancer patients are offered a written assessment and care plan – this equates to approximately 4,100 patients each year.
  • Over 40% of ovarian cancer patients were not given written information about their cancer.
  • One in three women with ovarian cancer felt that their views were not taken into account by doctors and nurses discussing treatment.
  • Although 91% of ovarian cancer patients were given t the name of the clinical nurse specialist (CNS) in charge of their care, only 68% send that their CNS was easy to contact

As well as early diagnosis and effective care and support, access to effective treatments can also play an important role in improving outcomes for women with ovarian cancer.  With a number of new treatments becoming available for ovarian cancer which can extend survival for patients whose cancer has already spread, the introduction of the Cancer Drugs Fund has been a welcome development.  Positively, recent research has shown that new ovarian cancer drugs are now routinely available in eight out of ten strategic authority areas through the Cancer Drugs Fund.  This allows more clinicians to prescribe the drugs which they feel could benefit their patients.

At the launch of the quality profiles in Parliament, Andrew Gwynne MP met with representatives from Ovacome and women affected by ovarian cancer to discuss their personal experiences of living with the disease.

Speaking at the event, Andrew Gwynne MP said:

“This is a campaign that I feel very passionately as I lost my mother to Ovarian cancer in 1994. Patients should be able to receive the standards of care delivered by the best performing hospitals, regardless of where they live.  I am supporting Ovacome’s campaign to secure better outcomes for women with this disease.

Louise Bayne, Chief Executive, Ovacome said:

“While there are currently high quality ovarian cancer services available in some areas of the country, not all patients are getting this level of care currently able to access the high quality services and support they rely on.  Accurate and up-to-date data are vital to driving improvements in standards.  That is why Ovacome has developed quality profiles to highlight good practice and establish a benchmark on which to measure progress – in the same way, we want Government to support the development of quality metrics so that the NHS starts to prioritise the outcomes which matter most to women with ovarian cancer.”

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