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A postcode lottery of care

1.14 In addition to relatively poor survival rates, the NHS also suffers from unacceptable variations in access to high quality cancer services.

  • Studies have shown clearly that communities most at risk of ill health tend to have the poorest access to the range of preventive health services, including cancer screening programmes.
  • There are widespread geographical inequalities in the quality and type of treatment patients receive, because of shortages of specialist staff, fragmentation of care, inadequate access to surgical facilities, a postcode lottery on prescribing and insufficient radiotherapy facilities.
  • Many patients prefer to be able to die at home, but in practice only a quarter are able to do so, as a lack of community or specialist palliative care teams in some parts of the country conspires with inconsistent access to out-of-hours nursing care to prevent their wishes being met.

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