Teamwork brings results for cancer patients
Waiting times for hundreds of cancer patients in Norfolk are improving as a result of new ways of working in diagnostic departments at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) and James Paget Hospital (JPH).
Direct referral and fast-tracking arrangements within hospital Radiology units are helping to reduce waiting times for hundreds of cancer patients and all the improvements are the result of organisational changes within the Norfolk and Waveney Cancer Network rather than extra money or resources.
The Norfolk and Waveney Cancer Network manages cancer services across Central and East Norfolk. The changes follow national guidance from the Cancer Services Collaborative (CSC), which aims to encourage multidisciplinary teams to work together to improve cancer care from the patient’s perspective.
Impressive results have been achieved in bowel cancer at NNUH, where waiting times for a barium enema have been reduced from 29 weeks to 4-6 weeks, benefiting 60 patients per week. The introduction of pre-admission clinics for some detailed investigations for people with lung cancer have also reduced hospital stays from 72 hours to 24.
Further improvements in cancer care are expected with the recent move to the new, state-of-the-art Colney Centre at NNUH – waiting times for chemotherapy and radiotherapy patients across the Norfolk network have already been reduced from 13 days to the same day.
At the prestigious Fourth Institute for Healthcare Improvement Conference in Orlando, Florida, Norfolk’s improvements were presented as some of the best in the world. Health workers across the Atlantic were impressed by our cancer services – in particular the emphasis on multidisciplinary team meetings to discuss treatment plans.
Dr Neil Stevenson, cancer network public health adviser, said: A great deal of work is being done across Norfolk to improve cancer services and it’s very pleasing to see that our work is gaining international recognition.
New ways of working in our local hospitals are bringing about very real improvements for cancer patients and we are all committed to working hard to improve waiting times even further.
Achievements in Norfolk so far include:
- Lung Cancer – direct referral following a suspicious chest x-ray has reduced waiting times from 60 days to 40 days. Pre-admission clinics for some surgery for lung cancer have also reduced hospital stays from 72 hours to 24.
- Ovarian Cancer – ‘Fast tracking’ of patients following suspicious pelvic ultrasound and improved referral procedures within the NNUH trust have reduced waiting times from referral to treatment from 28 days to seven.
- Bowel Cancer – The NNUH radiology department has reduced waiting times for a barium enema from 29 weeks to 4 -6 weeks. Teams across the network are making changes to the way cancer patients are being followed up. Fast track systems are being set up, reducing time from diagnosis to treatment.
- Breast Cancer – The JPH feeds back information to GPs within one working day of diagnosis (previously up to five working days). The team has also redesigned its family history clinic to ensure that patients receive a prompt and appropriate service.
- Prostate Cancer – More patients are discussed at the weekly clinical meetings and there are better procedures for the diagnostic test. New and improved information leaflets are now available at all stages of a patient’s journey.
- Radiology – At the James Paget Hospital, 200 patients a week are benefiting from significant reduction in waiting times for investigation of gynaecological and urological problems.
- Chemotherapy/Radiotherapy – referral times from Cromer and James Paget hospitals to NNUH have reduced from up to 13 days to the same day. Waiting times for first chemotherapy treatment at the JPH have fallen from average of 16 days to eight.