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BHRUH launches Rapid Diagnostic Centre to speed up cancer diagnosis

Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust has launched a Rapid Diagnostic Centre (RDC) to encourage faster diagnosis for patients with vague symptoms or signs of cancer. It is part of the trust’s recovery plan, and focus on returning to planned care, following the impact of the pandemic.

The main focus of this will be centred around the patients experience and their quality of care. This will include developing feedback into the new service, where patients’ views are directly incorporated into the RDC.

Jo Johnson, the RDC Strategy and Operations Manager, explained: “The impact of Covid has meant that many patients have been reluctant or unable to see their GP in person, and so we are seeing increasing numbers of patients who have had non-specific symptoms for a long period of time who need urgent management.

“The RDC is unique, as unlike site specific pathways where patients who are not found to have a diagnosis of cancer are referred back to their GP, patients are managed to a diagnostic outcome, with a referral onto the relevant specialist service.”

Once trusts receive a referral, patients will be contacted and then introduced to their care team, who explain the process, and ensure they have all the information and support needed to attend their appointments and tests.

Patients can be referred to the RDC if their GP suspects they have possible cancer symptoms, where further investigation by a specialist team in the hospital is required. The benefits mean that cancers can be detected at an earlier stage, allowing patients to be treated quickly and effectively if needed.

Luigi De Michele, RDC Consultant, said: “The RDC provides a one stop clinic and so patients who are referred to us are given the assurance that their symptoms will be fully investigated to provide them with an outcome and management plan.  

“Many of our patients are highly anxious and have a number of problems that are impacting their quality of life and wellbeing. We work alongside the clinical teams within the trust so they can be transferred for ongoing treatment quickly and seamlessly.

“We treat the whole person and support them throughout their diagnostic journey, keeping their GP fully informed at all times, which improves communication and enhances their support in the community.”

NHS England have developed the initiative being utilised by the trust, which is funded by the North East London Cancer Alliance. The centre provides primary care with a tailored cancer pathway, for patients with vague symptoms who do not fit into a specific cancer pathway. The new service will operate at both Queen’s and King George hospitals.

Ms Johnson commented: “By providing this service, we also hope to reduce the burden on the site-specific pathways by reducing inappropriate referrals.

“This will mean we are able to reduce multiple hospital attendances and ensure they are given timely targeted treatment.”

Mr De Michele added: “Patient satisfaction feedback from existing RDC Services shows that patients who are managed this way express high levels of satisfaction and lower levels and anxiety.

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NHE May/June 2024

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