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New Rapid Diagnostic Centre continues to assess patients during Covid-19 pandemic

By | Cancer Alliance, Diagnostics

A new service launched in January for patients with symptoms that are cause for concern but do not meet the criteria for urgent referral for cancer, has continued to assess patients despite the Covid-19 pandemic.

The new Rapid Diagnosis Centre (RDC) for suspected cancer is clinically led by James Turvill from Gastroenterology and James Haselden from Radiology.

James Turvill said: “When a patient goes to their GP with symptoms such as unexplained and unintentional weight loss, unexplained loss of appetite, fatigue, nausea, bloating or vague abdominal or unexpected or progressive pain, the GP often has a ‘gut feeling’ of a possible cancer diagnosis.

“Unfortunately, in the NHS system is there is no clear referral pathway for patients with serious non-specific but concerning symptoms unless patients have findings that meet the two week criteria for a site specific urgent referral pathway for cancer.

“The rapid diagnostic one stop clinic is an exciting breakthrough for the York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and fantastic news for patients who visit their GP with worrying symptoms.”

The early diagnosis initiative involves two Primary Care Networks consisting of 11 GP practices to test and refine the new pathway. Spencer Robinson, Improvement Lead for the rapid diagnosis centre, designed the new service.

Spencer said: “We are very proud to have developed this new cancer pathway from scratch and launched it on time.

“Unfortunately circumstances have changed and we have had to modify the service for a period of time in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. We are still accepting referrals but the ‘one stop approach’ is suspended due to limited access to endoscopy and CT scans.

“Patients are still being assessed and if they are emergency or a high risk are offered diagnostic tests followed by a video or telephone consultation with the RDC consultant regarding outcome and next steps.

A man photographed from the chest up, wearing a blue shirt, brown blazer, blue tie and black thick-framed glasses. He has some grey stubble and is standing in front of a brick wall that is slightly out of focus.

“Low risk patients are supported by the RDC Coordinator and RDC Advanced Nurse Practitioner via telephone with six weekly follow up telephone assessments to reassess their symptoms.”

The centre is supported by Cancer Care Coordinator, Laura Brett and Cancer Nurse Specialist Jo Clark.

Laura said: “The patients we have had through the pathway so far have found the one stop approach to be really valuable, even though it has been a long day for them. We are looking forward to being able to resume the full service. The most rewarding part of my role is getting to meet our patients and provide any support they need throughout the RDC pathway.”

Cancer Nurse Specialist Jo Clark has been working with patients with cancer for over ten years.

Jo said: “The RDC pathway is personalised, reduces unnecessary appointments and tests and improves delays in diagnosis. I have seen the effects that waiting for tests and results can have on patients so improving this part of the patients journey is such a positive step. Even though we are limited  by the current circumstances, we discuss and review the patient’s pathway frequently to make sure we are supporting  them the best way we can through this difficult journey.”

Mikki Golodnitski, Programme Lead for Diagnostics at Humber, Coast and Vale Cancer Alliance (HCV CA) has supported the development of RDCs at York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and said:

“Over the last 12 months, the HCV CA Diagnostic team have worked in collaboration with York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust to pilot a full RDC Pathway for patients with serious non-specific symptoms within Humber, Coast and Vale region.

“RDC pathways support the Alliance’s overarching ambition of achieving faster diagnosis for patients and we are delighted that the York RDC team have managed to effectively adapt their services in order to maintain its benefits to patients during the coronavirus pandemic.

“The Alliance continues to work with stakeholders in each locality to build on work that has already commenced to embed the RDC principles and pathways across the Humber, Coast and Vale region.”

To find out how Cancer Alliances are driving force for change, providing dedicated focus and capacity to deliver improvements in cancer outcomes locally, please click here.

An image of Dan Cottingham, Cancer and End of Life Lead at NHS Vale of York

70% drop in Vale of York Cancer referrals as doctors urge people to visit their GP

By | Awareness and Early Diagnosis, Cancer Alliance, Diagnostics | No Comments

NHS Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group, York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and GP Practices from the Humber, Coast and Vale Cancer Alliance are working together to ensure cancer services continue safely, urging people not to delay seeking help if they notice any signs and symptoms of cancer.

Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, across the Vale of York, there has been a 70% reduction in two-week referrals from GP practices to secondary care. A statistic which is extremely worrying to health professionals as they witness fewer patients making appointments to express their health concerns.

Dr Dan Cottingham, Cancer and End of Life Lead at NHS Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group said:

Cancer hasn’t gone away because of coronavirus. There will still be people in our community experiencing signs and symptoms of cancer such as the sudden appearance of a lump, blood in their urine, or a change to usual bowel habits - and so it is vital these people contact their GP practice so a doctor can investigate and refer to a specialist if necessary.

GP appointments are still available for patients to talk through any concerns over the phone or via an online video consultation, and are working closely with cancer specialist teams at York and Scarborough hospitals to ensure urgent cases continue to be seen promptly.”

Accessing a GP has changed during the pandemic but GP practices are continuing to provide the same safe care they always have done.

People who are referred into York hospital for treatment or who are already on a course of treatment can expect the same quality of care, the way that care now looks however may have changed due to the restrictions of the pandemic.  York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has redesigned services to enable the safe continuation of quality care during the pandemic.

Laura Milburn, Head of Cancer at York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said:

It is vital that patients experiencing concerning symptoms, especially those that could be cancer, contact their GPs for assessment during the pandemic.

GP and hospital services have had to change significantly to manage the impact of the pandemic but we want to reassure patients who are referred into our hospitals for investigation that we are still providing the same quality of care, just in a different way, ensuring all the appropriate measures in line with government guidance are in place to keep patients safe when accessing services.”

To support with cancer referrals and ongoing cancer services in the Vale of York area, the Humber, Coast and Vale (HCV) Cancer Alliance has accelerated the procurement of home working stations within our region to report from home during Covid-19.

Dr Oliver Byass, Clinical Director for Radiology, Humber, Coast and Vale Cancer Alliance said:

The collaborative reporting solution sits above our independent picture archiving and communication system (PACS) and work stations within our hospitals and will allow us, as individual radiologists, to report the ‘right test first time’ seamlessly across our organisations and this is going to be transformational as to how we work in the future.

Our work in modern radiology is a lot about diagnostics and trying to get the patient diagnosis both safely and as quickly as possible and we are very fortunate that modern radiology, CT, MRI and ultrasound have amazing diagnostic capabilities.”

For more information on seeking help during Covid-19, read our blog on what to do about possible cancer symptoms.

Helping to support the continuation of cancer diagnosis during Covid-19

By | Cancer Alliance, Diagnostics

Humber, Coast and Vale Cancer Alliance has accelerated the procurement of home working stations to enable the reporting workforce within our region to report from home during Covid-19.

Thirty home working stations, which have been funded through transformational monies, will be placed in reporters homes across Humber, Coast and Vale region to help alleviate any pressures caused by staff needing to self-isolate or reduce travel into acute sites.

The Cancer Alliance has worked with Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust, York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust to agree where these stations are placed for maximum impact.

As well as supporting the continuation of cancer diagnosis in line with national guidance during covid-19, the home working stations will also support service delivery in the immediate post Covid-19 period and will enable collaborative working and increased capacity for reporting in the longer term.

As the Alliance move forwards, the work stations will form part of the Humber, Coast and Vale collaborative reporting solution, described below by Dr Oliver Byass, Clinical Director for Radiology at Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust:

“The collaborative reporting solution sits above our independent Picture archiving and communication system (PACS) and work stations within the various trusts and will allow us as individual radiologists to report the ‘right test first time’ seamlessly across our organisations and that is going to be transformational as to how we work in the future.

Our work in modern radiology is a lot about diagnostics and trying to get the patient diagnosis both safely and as quickly as soon as possible and we are very fortunate in the fact that modern radiology, CT, MRI and ultrasound have amazing diagnostic capabilities”

This work will help support the Alliance ambition of earlier diagnosis and better outcomes for patients, whilst delivering sustainable diagnostic services across the area.

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