What are people's experiences of cancer services?

Our new report on cancer services highlights issues with travel, support and coordination alongside praise

A prominent theme that features throughout the report was the impact that cross-Solent travel has on individuals during a time they are very unwell and particularly vulnerable.

The issues range from finances, appointment times and discharge to traveling times with round trips often lasting 5 to 6 hours, and sometimes being as high as 8 hours per day.

Much praise and appreciation was expressed about the daisy bus transport arranged by the Wessex Cancer Trust, however due to appointment schedules and a lack of awareness many people miss out on this vital service.

Of particular concern we received several comments suggesting that some patients find the prospect of travel so off-putting that they do not seek treatment, or decline it when offered.

In response to the report, Loretta Kinsella, Director of Quality and Clinical Services, Isle of Wight Clinical Commissioning Group said:

The Isle of Wight Clinical Commissioning Group recently worked with NHS England South Specialised Commissioning to review the radiotherapy and chemotherapy provision for Isle of Wight Residents; the Healthwatch cancer survey was a key element of that review.

The Isle of Wight Clinical Commissioning Group is pleased to receive the full Healthwatch report and recommendations, which provide valuable insight into how we can work together with cancer service providers and our colleagues in Specialised Commissioning (who commission rare cancers radiotherapy and chemotherapy) to make a meaningful difference to improving patient care.

Since the review and the survey was undertaken, a Cross-Solent Cancer Board has been established which is attended by key staff from the Cancer Unit at the Isle of Wight NHS Trust, the Cancer Centres at University Hospital Southampton Foundation NHS Trust and Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust and both commissioning organisations.

It will be through this new board that all partners can consider the Healthwatch report and resulting action plan. We would like to thank Healthwatch Isle of Wight for their support with this important cancer service review.


A number of issues emerged within the report surrounding the coordination of services. People reported that clinical updates were not always available to professionals, and patients could find themselves passing on this information. Case coordination tended to falter if a key individual professional was absent from work and the process from moving from one NHS Trust to another was not always smooth. 

Alongside a lack of coordination, patients could not always recall being given information on sources of support. Issues relating to a lack of information were evident throughout the whole of the patients journey and overall, a lack of coherence was found in access to information. The Macmillan and breast care services received high levels of praise for their level and delivery of knowledge and information along with their kindness and compassion. 

Cancer services became a focus for Healthwatch Isle of Wight after it was chosen by the public during a prioritisation event held in 2015. The report was compiled using information obtained from the survey Healthwatch Isle of Wight carried out in November 2015 that invited anyone who had accessed cancer services within the previous two years to complete. As a result of the findings a total of 16 recommendations have been made by Healthwatch Isle of Wight and sent to the relevant commissioners and providers. 

We welcome the report from Healthwatch Isle of Wight and have worked on an action plan with the Isle of Wight Clinical Commissioning Group to address the recommendations made within this report.

As a trust we continue to strive towards providing a seamless, holistic, high quality service for cancer patients.

This includes those patients who travel to the Tertiary Centres for treatment in Portsmouth Hospital Trust (PHT) and University Health Service of Southampton (UHS).

All three Trusts are committed to improving the patient experience and will continue with close communication to ensure continuity of patient care.

Anne Snow, Lead Cancer Nurse, Isle of Wight NHS Trust

Read the report in full

Find out more about people's experiences of cancer services, and our recommendations for improvement by reading our report in full.

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