Patients Urged To Make Voices Heard Following Cancer Research

Expert Calls For ‘Stiff Upper Lip’ Attitude To Change

30.01.2013

Medical law experts have called on Britons with cancer concerns to not ignore the warning signs and avoid seeking advice, following the release of new research which claims a ‘stiff upper lip’ culture means the UK is lagging behind other nations when it comes to fighting the disease.

Research by King’s College London and University College London, published in the British Journal of Cancer, found that one in six people aged over 50 were embarrassed about sharing symptoms despite being as aware of symptoms as those in countries including Australia and Canada.

A third also stated that they did not want to be seen to be wasting a medical professional’s time with their concerns.

Concerns have now been raised as more data shows the UK is behind a number of countries when it comes to cancer survival, which suggests that the reluctance to seek advice which has been identified could be a factor.

Irwin Mitchell’s specialist Medical Law and Patients’ Rights team have said it is vital that people with health concerns tackle such attitudes and recognise the huge importance of having an honest and open dialogue with doctors, nurses and other medical experts.

Lisa Jordan, a Partner and expert in medical law at the firm’s Birmingham office, said: “It may be natural for some people to downplay illness or health concerns, but we would urge them to rethink this and always get advice when they need it.

“The researchers involved in this study suggest this is a uniquely British issue and one we believe needs to change. Patients cannot delay in seeking advice as with serious conditions it is often the case that every day can count.”

Lisa added that patients should always ask as many questions as possible when talking to professionals.

She explained: “There is no real benefit in being coy when it comes to engagement with a doctor. It is natural for patients to take a professional’s word at face value but with some of our clients we have seen instances when a reluctance to question or challenge their doctor on treatment or care decisions has played a part in some problems.

“Patients and their loved ones need to ensure their voices are heard, as this is a vital part of ensuring health professionals maintain the high standards of support expected of them – as well as guaranteeing that those who are failing in their duties are properly held to account.”