Woman in cancer meeting with a nurse

NHS to invest £20m into faster cancer diagnosis measures

More patients with suspected cancers could receive same day diagnosis following plans by the NHS to invest £20m into a package of measures to speed up cancer checks.

These include ‘skin snaps’ and rapid tests, which it is hoped will allow thousands more people to get potentially lifesaving cancer checks. Many of these methods were under consideration already, with the £20m financial backing aimed at speeding up the rollout of these plans.

Teledermatology is being used to diagnose skin cancer faster, with pictures being taken by a medical photographer sent to hospitals so diagnosis and treatment can happen quickly.

The technology is already being used in Leeds, York and Mid-Yorkshire, with a doctor reviewing an image of the patient’s skin for diagnosis.

New efforts to accelerate cancer diagnosis for prostate cancer is also seeing patients being directly referred for an MRI scan by nurses, rather than having to wait for an appointment with a consultant.

This has reduced multiple visits to a single visit, with all diagnostic tests able to be carried out on the same day.

Within the NHS Long Term Plan, the NHS made a commitment to catch three quarter of cancers early, when they are easier to treat. This would be up from around half caught early at present.

Cancer care referrals and treatment levels are now reportedly back to pre-pandemic levels, after a period of disruption, with some of the latest data showing more than 207,000 people were checked in May 2021 - around 100,000 more than in the same month last year.

In the same period, over 25,000 people began cancer treatment - the majority of which started within a month of diagnosis.

Dame Cally Palmer, NHS National Director for Cancer, said: “The NHS has prioritised cancer treatment throughout the coronavirus pandemic and, alongside caring for 405,000 people with coronavirus in hospitals and delivering over 65 million vaccines, more than 350,000 people have also started treatment for cancer since it began.

“We know that some patients did not come forward but, thanks to the huge efforts of our staff, we’re seeing referral and treatment levels recover.

“From cancer symptom hotlines to skin snaps and rapid triage, NHS staff are once again going to great lengths to ensure that those who are coming forward for checks can continue to be seen quickly, so that cancer can be caught at an earlier stage”.

Professor Peter Johnson, National Clinical Director for Cancer in England, added: “We know that some people were reluctant to seek help during the pandemic so it is good news that we are now seeing higher numbers coming forward for checks.

“Cancer hasn’t gone away during the pandemic and we would rather see you sooner with a cancer that can be easily treated, than later with one that may be more difficult.

“Our message remains the same – if you have a worrying symptom, please do get it checked – the NHS is ready for you”.

NHE Sept/Oct 21

NHE Sept/Oct 21

Improving care for long-term conditions

Join us in our September/October edition of National Health Executive, as we explore a range of topics impacting and improving the care that we can deliver to patients, the facilities within which we deliver them, and the opportunities in the digital space to accent and evolve our care capabilities

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National Health Executive Presents

NHE365 Virtual Festival: Digital Healthcare

The integration of new technology, such as using virtual outpatient appointments instead of face-to-face reviews of patients in the hospital. Adapting the ways in which our NHS workers serve people has been critical in continuing to provide high-quality treatment, a positive patient experience and preventing Covid-19 transmission during the pandemic. Our healthcare sector has the potential to transform the way we continue to provide essential services while also improving patient care. But how easy is the integration of these innovations into routine NHS practice?

On the 28th of October, at the NHE365 Virtual Hospitals & Technology Enabled Care online event, we will be discussing patient flow and experience, reducing waiting times, reducing the patient backlog and increasing technology adoption. Will you be attending? 

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