The House of Commons public accounts committee (PAC) in the UK has severely criticized the NHS for failing to supply accurate information about cancer to patients. The committee also castigated the NHS for according a low priority to prostate cancer as compared to some other cancers.
The report also said that most terminally ill cancer patients were not aware of disability benefits that could solve some financial problems with respect to the treatment costs. The report, titled, "Tackling Cancer: Improving the Patient Journey," says that although the referral procedures are better than those prevailing in 2000, almost 40 percent of cancer patients still wait for more than two weeks before seeing a specialist, thereby placing them under more stress. "Cancer patients are being looked after better than they were five years ago and generally well. I congratulate the NHS for that. But the experience of cancer sufferers is not as good as it could be," said Edward Leigh, chairman of the committee. "Too many are waiting too long to see a specialist following referral by a GP. Clinicians are often failing to provide patients with vital information they need about their condition," he added. The reports says that the waiting times for bowel cancer are simply too long, while most prostate cancer patients did not receive any cancer-related information to help them in a difficult time. "Prostate cancer, which kills some 10,000 men a year, is regarded as a lower priority than other common cancers when it comes to the provision of specialist care," Mr. Leigh said. "The inequitable treatment of this group of NHS patients is entirely unacceptable." Prostate cancer compared unfavorably with breast cancer where 70 percent patients were well-looked after.