PUBLISHED ON: 21 January 2019

Following the government decision on the National Cancer Patient Survey, we explain what the survey is, and why it matters to cancer patients.

Find out about the Cancer Patient Survey

What is the National Cancer Patient Experience Survey?

The National Cancer Patient Survey (NCPES) monitors changes in overall patient experience as well as across different types of cancers such as breast cancer. It is carried out every year on behalf of NHS England and provides patients with an important chance to feedback and rate aspects of their care from treatment through to nursing.

The survey provides invaluable information to the NHS about the areas of care that need to be improved. It is also vital to the development of our work and helps us to identify where we need to focus our policy and campaigning efforts. 

What’s the change and how is Breast Cancer Care involved?

Last year, changes to the way patient data can be used came into effect. The national data opt-out enabled people to say if they did not want their confidential patient information to be used for research and planning. If this opt-out was applied to the NCPES, it could have led to a drastic reduction in the number of people that participated, making the sample size too small for it be used to drive service improvements. Ultimately, this could have resulted in the survey being discontinued.

At Breast Cancer Care, we recognise how important it is for patients to have control over their data. However, we know that our services users, supporters and campaigners are passionate about sharing their experiences of care. They tell us that they want their experiences to be used to improve services for people in the future.

That’s why we decided to take action. Working with other cancer charities, we urged the Department of Health and Social Care to make the survey permanently exempt from the National Data Opt Out. Without this action, the survey would not have been able to continue in its current form and provide the same high quality data.

What does this mean for breast cancer patients?

We are pleased that the Department for Health and Social Care has taken the decision for the NCPES to be permanently exempt from the data opt-out. This means that it will be able to continue in its current form and provide valuable data which will be used to improve cancer services and patient experience.

This is an extremely encouraging sign that patients will be placed at the heart of NHS plans – crucial to ensuring that everyone receives the best care possible.



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