Improving access to cancer services
The number of people seen after an urgent referral to diagnostics for suspected cancer during 2021 was higher than pre-pandemic levels. However, there is still a backlog of people who have been referred to treatment, and we would have expected more people to come forward to start treatment during the pandemic than have done so.
Throughout the pandemic, the NHS in South West London has been amognst the highest performing systems in London for the number of patients treated within 62 days of referral, demonstrating good resilience and continued provision of cancer treatments. Our aim now is to build on this and to return to pre-pandemic rates of access to treatment, whilst also meeting the increased number of referrals.
During 2022/23 we are focussing on achieving the Faster Diagnosis Standard (FDS), which aims to make sure that nobody waits more than 28 days from referral to finding out whether they have cancer. We are also focussing on making sure people wait no more than 31 days between the meeting with their doctor at which a treatment plan is agreed and the start of treatment.
How we’re making a difference
What are we doing?
We are working with the RM Partners West London Cancer Alliance to develop and implement plans to transform cancer services and improve outcomes and experience for people in South West London.
In 2022/23 these plans will:
- Make sure we completely recover cancer services following the pandemic, including reducing the backlog of people waiting more than 62 days for cancer diagnostics and treatment, ensuring people continue to present to their GPs with cancer symptoms and go on to have timely cancer treatments where needed.
- Make sure there is capacity across the system so that all urgent suspected lower GI cancer referrals are accompanied by a fecal immunochemical test (FIT) result.
Help people get diagnosed and treated sooner
- Deliver the optimal timed pathway for prostate cancer, including eliminating the need for biopsy wherever possible by making sure mpMRI scans are done first.
- Improve the timeliness and access for people with skin cancer symptoms through better GP education and training, better triage and access to Teledermatology pathways for GPs making skin cancer referrals.
- Improve waiting times for people ruling out cancer and accessing cancer diagnostics and treatment by improving performance against the 62 day referral to treatment standard, the 28 day Faster Diagnosis Standard and 31 day decision-to-treat to first treatment standard.
- Work with Primary Care Networks (PCNs) to support implementation cancer early diagnosis.
- Get people diagnosed more quickly, by extending coverage of non-specific cancer symptom pathways and make sure 65% of urgent cancer referrals for suspected prostate, colorectal, lung, oesophagi-gastric, gynaecology and head and neck cancer meet timed pathway milestones.
- Maximise access to targeted lung heath checks and low dose CT scans for earlier diagnosis of lung cancer.
- Make sure we have fully operational and sustainable patient stratified follow up (PSFU) pathways for breast, prostate, colorectal and testicular cancer by July 2022, and thyroid and endometrial cancer by March 2023.
- Make sure that our colon capsule endoscopy and cystosponge projects deliver agreed levels of activity.
Help our workforce
- Increase the recruitment and retention of clinical nurse specialists, cancer support workers and pathway navigators, and promote take up of clinical training opportunities.
Restore screening programmes
- Restore and maintain the national cancer screening programmes for breast, bowel and cervical screening, including addressing areas where there is low screening uptake.
- Make sure that every person diagnosed with colorectal and endometrial cancer is tested for Lynch syndrome, and that family members are offered tests.
- Make sure that patients who qualify for liver surveillance are identified and invited to surveillance.
All South West London ICS partners are working together to improve access to cancer services. The RM Partners West London Cancer Alliance is leading on all clinical and operational work.
If you would like to get involved in our work to improve access to cancer services email us at [email protected]
Find out more about how you can get involved in our work on the Get Involved pages.