"The breast care team has given me thorough..."

About: Queen's Hospital, Burton Upon Trent

What I liked

Following a mammogram I had the unexpected experience of a recall for further tests. Since then it has been a roller coaster of tests and results but throughout this the staff in the breast care unit and X-ray and nuclear medicine departments have been kind, helpful and understanding.

Every area I've visited has been clean and welcoming. I've always found that toilet facilities have been clean and with all necessary amenities always in place- not always the case in other hospital outpatient areas. The xray receptionists and radiographers have been nothing but helpful, even where patients including me have been delayed by road problems or even turned up on the wrong day or had conflicting appointments. It's very reassuring that the breast care centre provides almost a one stop shop and can book further appointments and tests there and then. Every woman dreads a diagnosis of breast cancer but knowing there is acompetent and understanding team to take us along the treatment route is so important.

The range of tests that the consultants may propose is daunting at the time, but it's really important that we have access to all these tests so we have a really comprehensive treatment plan. At Queens they make this as easy as possible. The specialist breast care nurses are also always available to go through things in more detail after the consultation, and this is so important when youve received news that comes as such a shock.

What could be improved

As lay people having a first experience, its hard to know what good looks like! There is a lack of informatio about what we should be able to expect, for instance waiting time for tests. However, from comparing experiences, I think there is some room for improvement. After the shock of a diagnosis or possible diagnosis of breast cancer, the periods of waiting for test results are really very difficult and as the path lab is shared with another hospital, it seems that the can be longer waiting times than in some other areas of the country.

I have been offered a full range of choices all along the way, but in reality it's hard to find any firm information on which to make choices, for instance the frequency of specific procedures or comparative outcomes with other treatment centres. I'm sure Queens isn't alone in this, but it would be very helpful to be able to access information with which to make informed choices.

Anything else?

The breast care team from receptionist to consultants deserves full recognition for the outstanding service they provide to people in south staffs.

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Responses

Response from Queen's Hospital, Burton Upon Trent

Dear Patient,

Thank you for your very kind comments on the quality of the breast service here in Queen's Hospital in Burton-on-Trent. We agree with you very strongly that we work well as a team and place the patient at the centre of all that we do, and we appreciate that you have noticed this and commented favourably on it in a public forum.

We also appreciate that you have given some thought as to what we could improve. You make the point that as we share a pathology laboratory with another hospital and this may have led to longer waits for test results. This is unlikely to be the case, but we will investigate and see if this is having an effect. At present, the service we receive from Histopathology in Derby is excellent with accurate, detailed and comprehensive reports available less than a working week (the national standard) for core biopsies and less than 2 weeks for full tissue results post-operatively. Your point about firm information regarding outcomes and unwanted effects is well-made. We are working on comprehensive reporting of outcomes both locally and nationally for breast cancer and as this work is currently at an early stage, I must ask you to bear with us whilst the framework is put in place. One of the issues with this type of data is how quickly it can be processed and therefore how relevant it is to the situation currently active. We do have an extensive confidential photographic archive of both pre- and post-op results now which is available to review with our breast care nursing team and which allows patients to make up their own minds as to the effects of our treatment.

Once again, thank you very much for your feedback.

Best Wishes,

Mrs Susan Williams-Jones

Clinical Lead for the Burton Breast Unit.