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Patient Experiences Used To Improve Dorset Cancer Services

Dorset County Hospital Mac Coffee Morning

11:36am 19th November 2014

A new study's been capturing the feelings and experiences of hundreds of patients who've been receiving treatment for cancer at Dorset County Hospital.

Instead of tick box survey - the idea is to use people's very personal feedback to make positive changes.

Dorset County is now reorganising seating in one of its busiest outpatient areas because of the comments.

Macmillan Patient Experience Facilitator Izzy Pochin adds; "Breast cancer patients told us how uncomfortable it can be sitting in Outpatients with expectant mothers. This was very easily remedied with a little shuffling of chairs and re-organisation. Haematology patients often experience long waits whilst blood tests are being processed prior to seeing the doctor and are afraid of missing their appointment if they leave the clinic.  They will be given pagers to give them more freedom, improve the environment of the clinic and reduce their anxieties."  

Macmillan Patient Experience Facilitator Connor Kinsella explains; "Armed with the sort of valuable feedback not normally gleaned by tick-box surveys, we've worked closely with health professionals at DCH to turn what people actually say about cancer services into service improvements that will really make a difference for future patients.

"This is a process called Experience Based Design. It's about re-designing based on the wisdom of people who have first-hand experience of, in this case, cancer treatment. Having introduced the benefits of this approach our longer term aim is to help clinical staff continue using this approach long beyond the lifetime of this project as has happened in other NHS Trusts."

With data fed back on a vast array of cancer types, the team are now planning new areas of study, and implementing improvements for key parts of cancer services.

Connor talks about what that means in practice; "Lung cancer patients were reluctant to contact their Clinical Nurse Specialist, saying 'It's not fair on her. She's too busy with new patients. We don't want to be a burden.' Of course, the CNS would be more than happy to speak to patients who need her advice and reassurance. In response, we've worked with Macmillan's designers to develop a 'hotline card' that can be stuck on a fridge or notice board and actively encourages patients to contact Alex at times of need."

"We're also working with colleagues at our regional cancer centre to make transfer of care after radiotherapy a better experience for patients, reducing anxiety when treatment ends. One particular finding from the project that stands out no matter what type of cancer our patients had. The number of times patients used words such as 'brilliant' or 'wonderful', or 'kind' and 'caring' to describe the health professionals they had encountered on the way from their first outpatients appointment through to today."

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