Cancer Patient Entitlement

 This paper is published by the National Cancer Action Team

The entitlements of Cancer patients and their families

The NHS believes that patient care is based on making “No decision about me without me”.

The purpose of this leaflet is to support you in working together with your health care team during this challenging time by providing information that will help you to make choices about your treatment and care. It tells you about your key entitlements. If you need help finding further information for patients, don’t hesitate to ask your GP, practice nurse or other member of your health care team. Remember: they are here to help you.

Entitlement 1You can choose where you are treated 

Some hospitals specialise in certain types of cancer, others provide a more general service. You can choose where you go and even change hospital for different stages of your treatment.

Your GP and the information below will help you to decide where is best for you to go for what.

Entitlement 2:  Care provided by a fully staffed team of cancer experts

Hospitals have Multi Disciplinary Teams (MDTs) for cancer care. The team reviews the type of cancer you have and agrees with you the best treatment and care plan for you. The MDT is a group of specialists – including doctors, surgeons, oncologists, nurses, rehabilitation experts and pathologists – who are experts in cancer care and treatment. 

Entitlement 3:  A “key worker”, your contact for information and support

There will be a key worker (a specialist nurse or a rehabilitation expert) to support and lead you through your treatment and care. The key worker will work with you to find out your individual needs using an assessment tool called the Holistic Needs Assessment. This will enable them to develop an individual care plan for you. The key worker will explain that you are entitled to free prescriptions when undergoing cancer treatment. 

Entitlement 4:  Care which meets national standards of good practice 

The aim is to ensure, wherever you are treated in the country, the services you receive meet national standards for treatment and care. This follows the ‘Improving Outcomes Guidance’ (IOG) from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).

The performance of teams delivering cancer care is measured using a process called Peer Review to ensure the services meet these standards. All areas of care and treatment are covered by Peer Review including chemotherapy, surgery, radiotherapy, rehabilitation, counselling, and “survivorship” – that is, living with and beyond cancer.

You can find out about the IOG for your cancer type by looking at the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) website:

You can see how well different MDTs and hospitals perform by looking at the National Cancer Peer Review website:  

Entitlement 5:  Access to patients’ views on all aspects of NHS cancer services

Cancer teams undertake a patient survey, normally at least every two years, to see how well their service meets the needs of patients and what improvements need to be made.

In 2010 a national cancer patient experience survey was carried out. You may wish to see the results and compare them for individual MDTs and hospitals.

The following website gives this information:

This leaflet was written by a national group of cancer patients in partnership with NHS cancer specialists.

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