A pilot cancer services collaborative project launched in November 1999 has saved 400 years of waiting time for patients suffering from breast, lung, bowel, prostate and ovarian cancers. The project was managed by the National Patients’ Access Team, part of the NHS Modernisation Agency. The team identified more than 200 ways of improving services to reduce waiting times for diagnosis and for treatment. Many of the improvements were achieved through redesigning services and relatively few new resources were required.The second national phase of the collaborative has been launched with a video and publication of a series of cancer service improvement guides. The video has been made by clinical teams and it aims to raise awareness among other clinicians about service improvement methods and the successes of the collaborative. It includes not only information about methods to improve services, but also the views of doctors, nurses and patients who know what it feels like to have been part of the cancer services collaborative.
Although the pilot project was confined to cancer services many of the lessons learned can be applied across patient services throughout the NHS.