To date the achievements of the STP cancer workstream include:
- Successful STP bids to the national cancer team for investment to support local cancer transformation (£1.3m revenue funds in 2017/18; 952,000 revenue funds and £1.2m capital investment in 2018/19).
- Buying specialised equipment at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King's Lynn and the James Paget University Hospital so that patients with lung and prostate cancers can have specific types of biopsy performed at their local hospital rather than having to travel to other trusts.
- Buying equipment to start digitalising histopathology at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital to help workforce capacity pressures and improve efficiency.
- Clinical steering groups established for lung, prostate, colorectal, breast cancer pathways, cancer prevention and awareness, community cancer nursing and supportive cancer care.
- Establishment of a system-wide locality group and cancer forum which include representation from clinicians, patient/carer reps, Public Health, Healthwatch Norfolk and Healthwatch Suffolk.
- Implementation of a new stool diagnostic support test for bowel cancer - the FIT test. This is now available for all GPs in Norfolk and Waveney to offer to people when appropriate, and will help with achieving earlier diagnosis for some patients with colorectal cancer.
- Delivery of cancer education and awareness training to local pharmacists and GPs and community nurses, in partnership with Cancer Research UK.
- Delivery of advanced communication skills training for 10 health care staff working with people affected by cancer.
Prevention and Awareness
Diagnosing cancer earlier means it is more likely that patients will receive treatments that can cure cancer. At the moment only around 1 in 2 people with cancer in the UK are diagnosed at an early stage.
Earlier and faster diagnosis is dependent on people understanding and being aware of the early signs and symptoms of cancer, by taking up screening programmes or visiting a healthcare professional
Working closely with Public Health England, Cancer Research UK and Macmillan we will identify and employ a range of interventions to support early diagnosis. This will increase the proportion of patients identified through screening and managed pathways across primary and secondary care, whilst reducing the number of patients diagnosed as an emergency.
The NHS Long Term Plan states that three in four cancers are to be diagnosed at an early stage by 2028. One of the ways we can achieve this will be to help the public understand some of the signs and symptoms of possible cancer and helping GPs to refer patients for diagnostic tests.
Around four in ten cancers could be prevented largely through lifestyle changes. The biggest of these is smoking, which accounts for one in four UK cancer deaths and can cause at least 15 types of cancer. If you would like help to quit smoking, please ask.
The Long Term Plan states that all patients admitted to hospitals in England who smoke will be given treatment to quit unless they opt out.
We want to ensure more cases of cancer are diagnosed earlier, so we are introducing:
- National Optimal Pathways for lung, prostate, breast and colorectal cancer pathways
- FIT testing – for symptomatic patients in Primary Care
- A GP guidance vague symptoms pathway
- Digitising of histo-pathology
- The Faecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) was introduced in primary care across Norfolk and Waveney in November 2018 to speed up ruling out a cancer diagnosis for symptomatic patients.
FIT is a diagnostic test used for suspected lower gastro intestinal (GI) cancers, with a view to identifying more patients at risk of colorectal cancer with otherwise low-risk symptoms. FIT has better sensitivity of testing that will lead to earlier detection of polyps and improved prevention of colorectal cancer.
- Another action to earlier diagnosis is the age for bowel screening being lowered to 50 and will be undertaken using the FIT. It is anticipated this will be introduced in Summer 2019.
The Norfolk and Waveney STP cancer team worked in collaboration with Norfolk County Council’s MenKind campaign when its focus was on cancer and men. The team provided information, statistics and arranged for three interviewees to take part in short film on Anglia News.
The Eastern Daily Press published Darren’s blog about cancer the following Saturday. In the blog he talked of his father recently having surgery for cancer of the tongue. Read it here.
Be Clear on Cancer:
Be Clear on Cancer campaigns are run by Public Health England in partnership with the Department of Health and NHS England.
The campaigns are part of the National Awareness and Early Diagnosis Initiative, run in partnership with Cancer Research UK, to improve England’s cancer survival rates.
We will be promoting the national Be Clear on Cancer campaigns across Norfolk and Waveney.
GPs and local health care professionals working in cancer care are offered ongoing training.
For example the Red Whale course is a comprehensive look at the current evidence and guidance relating to all aspects of cancer care as it applies to GPs.
Advanced Communication Training
This two day course is delivered by the School of Medicine and Health Science at the University of East Anglia. It has been developed by a group of leading communication researchers and trainers in association with the Department of Health, and is aimed at senior healthcare professionals wishing to enhance their clinical communication skills.
Typical course content includes strategies for: breaking bad news, managing anger and distress, advanced care planning and end of life conversations, improving communication with colleagues.