Healthwatch Worcestershire has recently worked with KWPCSG to research access to PSA testing and the results so far have revealed a concerning lack of consistency in the information provided by GPs regarding prostate cancer and access to the PSA test. The surveys conducted at the Pershore PSA testing event and the KWPCSG support group meeting at The Harriers’ Social Club found that a significant number of men were discouraged from getting a PSA test, even when they had a family history of prostate cancer.
As a result of the Covid pandemic there has been a significant drop in the numbers of men coming forward for testing. KWPCSG has launched a Missing Men Campaign and is placing additional Prostate Cancer posters in pubs and other prominent places to encourage these missing men to come forward. This includes black men who have double the risk of prostate cancer.
Symptoms of prostate cancer include difficulty urinating, frequent urination (especially at night), blood in the urine or semen, pain or discomfort in the pelvic area, and erectile dysfunction. It is important to note that many of these symptoms can also be caused by other conditions, so seeing a doctor for a proper diagnosis is important. The PSA test is available free to any man 50 years or over who requests it. It is available to anyone with a prostate including trans women and non-binary people (NHS publications).
Any asymptomatic man (for example men without symptoms but with a close relative who has had prostate cancer) aged 50 or over can make an appointment with their GP to discuss having a PSA test.
Healthwatch Worcestershire will be continuing its project asking patients about their access to PSA testing, and in view of the survey results so far will be taking the following actions:
- Writing to all GP practices in Worcestershire with a request for assurance that they are complying with NHS England’s guidance on providing the informed PSA testing to a patient over 50 who requests it.
- Sharing the results of these surveys with the Chief Executive of NHS Herefordshire & Worcestershire, who has oversight of health services provided by GPs, with a recommendation that NHS England’s ‘Informed Choice Programme’ for PSA testing is properly and consistently implemented in Worcestershire.
Healthwatch Worcestershire will share the outcomes of these actions with KWPCSG and publish them, as well as continuing to gather further patient experience of access to PSA testing.
Prostate cancer rates are projected to rise by 15% in the UK over the next 15 years. By taking preventative measures and getting regular check-ups, we can work towards reducing the impact of this disease on men’s health and ensure that consistent care is provided to all men.
If you have an experience of health care services in Worcestershire that you wish to share with Healthwatch Worcestershire in confidence so that services can be improved please visit www.healthwatchworcestershire.co.uk or call 01386 550264.