Information mismatch ‘risks lives’

LIVES are being put at risk due to problems with the way people access cancer information in Scarborough, a survey author has said.

The claim follows an extensive survey by Scarborough, Whitby and Ryedale Patient Involvement Group, to investigate the knowledge and attitudes of the public in relation to Cancer Information Services.

Questionnaires were sent out to GPs’ surgeries across the area and a street survey was carried out in Whitby.

Statistician Ian Bryan, who has written the report, said the survey had revealed a “mismatch between expectations and the way things are”.

He explained: “We started off by looking at how much people were aware of the facilities available to them, but it was more a matter of what they thought was there and how to look for it.

“There is clearly a mismatch between public expectations and the preferences and assumptions of GPs.”

Mr Bryan said he was shocked that just 17 out of 42 GP surgeries responded to the survey: “There was a failure from them to appreciate what kind of service was necessary.”

The survey showed that people expect to be able to get a wide range of cancer information for their GP, but among the GPs who responded, opinion was divided between those who thought the responsibility was entirely central and those who thought it was, at least partly, local.

This can include information about lifestyle risks associated with cancer and spotting the signs early.

Mr Bryan said: “Everybody is aware that there is a problem with early cancer diagnosis. People are turning up at A&E with late presentation.

“People are getting treated late or dying because they don’t know enough to spot the symptoms early on, especially young people.”

The results are now going out to local GPs and further afield.