Report Card 2007

Lung cancer patients and The Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation have launched an end of year Report Card, which highlights to the UK governments the highly unsatisfactory status of lung cancer in the UK.

The Report Card provides a current view of lung cancer in the UK and sets out the targets that patients want to see achieved.

Scoring four Fs, two Es and just one C, the Report Card will provide MPs, MSPs and AMs with food for thought as they break for the Christmas recess. Following the recently published LUCADA audit data, these worrying grades for England and Wales provide additional evidence that UK lung cancer patients are being offered an unacceptably poor level of care, and significant progress needs to be made in order to bring the standard of UK lung cancer services in line with comparable European countries.

The audit results have prompted the RCLCF to call on the UK’s governmental bodies for urgent action – emphasising the clear need for an improvement in the quality of lung cancer care and a stronger commitment to patients. These calls have been echoed in the recent publication of the Cancer Reform Strategy which acknowledges the challenges in lung cancer and sets out a number of actions which aim to address these problems. It is vital that the government now prioritises improving all aspects of lung cancer services. The strategy is a five year plan and the Foundation hopes to see year on year improvements in the Report Card scores between now and 2012.

The Report Card categories were selected by patients as those of the highest importance to them, and include survival rates, raising public awareness of lung cancer symptoms, health professional education, research funding, access to new medicines and technologies and access to specialist care (e.g. Multi-Disciplinary Teams and lung cancer specialist nurses). Patients also determined what level of care and services would constitute the various A-F grades and the Report Card scores were based on these patient perceptions.

Kenny Hall, a lung cancer patient from Leeds comments on the importance of just one of the Report Card target areas – lung cancer specialist nurses: “When I was diagnosed with lung cancer three years ago, I was not introduced to a lung cancer specialist nurse until halfway through my treatment. It changed my journey through cancer to a less stressful, and in a way, painless journey. I cannot say how much of a difference having a lung cancer specialist nurse can make to a patient, whether it be in care, or being there on the phone when you are having a bad day, or just to advise you. They take on a lot of unseen workload, to which I am eternally grateful” .

Although progress has been made in reducing waiting times for lung cancer patients and improving the availability of cutting edge equipment such as PET scans, the Report Card reveals that UK survival rates – which are amongst the worst in Europe – are “not good enough ” given that lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer death in the UK. The score for patient access to specialist lung cancer nurses was given as “poor,” with patients’ access to new treatments and technologies being given another F grade. An additional area of concern highlighted in the Report Card was the level of research funding directed towards lung cancer - currently only 3.9% of government cancer research funding is used for this deadly disease.

The Report Card (see downloads) will be reviewed at the end of every year, when the Foundation will once again score the UK governments on how they are performing in the seven key areas. Each year the scores will be compared to assess whether any improvements have been made.

“This end of year Report Card has been scored by patients, to benchmark and quantify the government's overall commitment to lung cancer,” said Dr. Jesme Fox, Medical Director, The Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation. “In key areas that commitment is woefully lacking. We will issue a second Report Card at the end of 2008. Our hope is that the grades scored next year will show a marked improvement.”

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