Cancer Insight: Experiences of diagnosis and/or treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic

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Summary of report content

The purpose of this project was to hear from patients and their friends, family members and/or carers who have been through a cancer diagnosis and/or treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Experiences were gathered through the style of a detailed patient story, which were shared with the relevant Hospital Trust, University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust (UHDB) and Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (CRH) for a personalised response.

The insight gathered will be used to help inform future cancer commissioning decisions in Derbyshire.

This report provides an overview of all the experiences captured.

Key findings:

  • People need clear information on how to prepare for, and what to expect from their first appointment: It was felt that this could include latest COVID-19restrictions, whether or not a friend/family member could attend for support and how a serious mental illness (SMI) is noted.
  • Importance of recognising the level of support an individual may need as early as possible to ensure they feel supported throughout their journey: Some people felt they had limited professional and/or family support at their diagnosis and throughout their treatment, whereas others were thankful to have a family member/close friend accompany them for support.
  • Information and advice throughout a cancer journey should be delivered in a tailored way to the individual: Some people were provided with a lot of information, others were provided with booklets and one person was left with a number of unanswered questions.
  • People should be informed on the most up to date COVID-19safety measures: A number of people felt it was important to know what to expect when attending the hospital for treatment, including temperature checks on arrival, pre-op COVID-19tests and restrictions on visiting.
  • People spoke very positively of staff involved within their care and treatment: Continuity was seen as vital with professionals to enable people to build up trust and get to know them.
  • Most people found virtual appointments work well: However, it is important where possible for people to have choice regarding their type of appointment, i.e. phone, video or face-to-face.
  • More available support from clinical nurse specialists (CNS): A number of comments were made regarding a lack of CNS support through various stages of their cancer journey and particularly for secondary cancer patients.
  • Ongoing support should be discussed with patients to ensure a personalised approach: The level and type of support will vary depending on the individual and it is important for people to have a named contact to discuss any questions or concerns.
  • Support for carers: Cancer affects the whole family, so it is important to ensure that family/carers feel supported.

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General details

Report title 
Cancer Insight: Experiences of diagnosis and/or treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch Derbyshire
Date of publication 
Monday, 26 July, 2021
Date evidence capture began 
Thursday, 1 July, 2021
Date evidence capture finished 
Saturday, 31 July, 2021
Key themes 
Booking appointments
Building and facilities
Cleanliness hygiene and infection control
Continuity of care
Information providing
Lifestyle and wellbeing
Quality of care
Service delivery organisation and staffing

Methodology and approach

Primary research method used 
User stories

Details of health and care services included in the report

Secondary care services 
Social care services 
Respite care

Details about conditions and diseases

Conditions or diseases 

Details of people who shared their views

Does the information include public's views? 
What was the main sentiment of the people who shared their views? 

Network Impact
Relationships that exist locally, regionally, nationally have benefited from the work undertaken in the report
Implied Impact
Where it is implied that change may occur in the future as a result of Healthwatch work. This can be implied in a provider  response, press release or other source. Implied impact can become tangible impact once change has occurred.
Tangible Impact
There is evidence of change that can be directly attributed to Healthwatch work undertaken in the report.