Royal United Hospital
Written by a patient
4th September 2014
I was recently treated for breast cancer at the RUH, when in my 40s.
From the moment I went through the doors of the breast unit, my care was excellent. I have one point to make about it: I don't think that the physical and organisational separation of the breast unit from the Oncology department is really in the best interests of patients, but I believe the new cancer building will at least put these services together under one roof.
However, I should have arrived at the breast unit earlier than I did. It took 10 days for me to be referred there from my GP's surgery, which is really too long. I might also have benefited from the hospital's family history services relating to breast cancer, but I had no idea they existed. The only publicity appears to be a web page which is badly laid out (it is hard to get at a list of risk factors, for example) and over two years out of date. There is no information on display about it at my GP's surgery or even at the breast unit itself. Furthermore, in my 16 months of treatment I was never asked 'Have you a sister?' This is contrary to the recommendations of Breakthrough and others that relatives of breast cancer patients should be contacted about family history services.
I cannot understand why the hospital should equip and staff such a service, but not tell those who need to know about it that it exists. I realise it costs more to do this, but there are high-risk women out there who have the right to know that there is help available.