Headlines: August 22nd, 2001

Pilots to modernise NHS cancer services have dramatically cut the time patients have to wait for treatment.Patients treated by the ‘Cancer Service Collaboratives’ pilots waited an average of two and a half weeks less for their treatment than before the pilots started work. The 51 pilots, established in November 1999, have seen 8,432 cancer patients – streamlining services, working smarter and more efficiently.

The main change was to analyse their work from a patient point of view resulting in quicker and more user-friendly services – and less uncertainty.

For example, at the Southmead Hospital in Bristol, the time that patients referred with suspected prostate cancer have to wait for their first treatment has been cut from 56 to 25 days. This has been achieved by setting up a weekly rapid access clinic and by pre-booking patient appointments.

The Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle-upon-Tyne has trained district and practice nurses to perform a simple procedure to drain fluid that can collect after breast cancer surgery. Women can now be treated at home instead of travelling to their doctors.

The Government has invested 7.5 million pounds into the expansion of Cancer Service Collaboratives this year. It has promised to invest 15 million pounds next year.