Improvements are being made to care received by people diagnosed with cancer in the Isle of Man, a recent event found.
‘Cancer across Primary and Secondary Care: Improving the Patient Journey’ was attended by both medical staff and health service managers.
Primary Care is often the first point of contact for people in need of healthcare, acting as a ‘front door’ to health services, and is provided by professionals such as General Practitioners (GPs), dentists and pharmacists.
Secondary Care refers to specialist healthcare professionals, such as a consultant, who people would encounter after being referred by a GP. These services are typically based in a hospital rather than a community setting, and include elective surgery and emergency care.
A presentation by Dr Debbie Harvey, Macmillan GP and Primary Care Lead for Cheshire and Merseyside, referred to a study conducted with GPs on the Island, who had been asked about their experiences – both good and bad – of cancer services available to patients.
The exercise, explained Dr Harvey, was a positive one as it resulted in a review of referral forms for patients with suspected cancer. This change is designed to ensure that each cancer-specific referral form used by Primary Care on the Isle of Man is to current NHS England (NHSE) standards, is fit for purpose and allows accurate and succinct information to be communicated to consultants in Secondary Care, which ultimately results in supporting the timely referral of patients.
Mike Quinn, Director of Hospital Services at Noble’s Hospital, spoke about the improvements being made in relation to the number of people being seen by a consultant within two weeks of being referred.
At the end of June 2016, 38% of patients were seen within two weeks, but this figure had increased to 89.8% by the end of Quarter 1 2017-2018 on June 30 2017. Factors which had led to this improvement, said Mr Quinn, included the introduction of weekly cancer patient tracking list meetings on 1 July 2016 and allowing Cancer Multi-Disciplinary Team co-ordinators to engage with senior staff to resolve issues and develop the service.
An insight into the role of Public Health Intelligence and improving patient outcomes was provided by Director of Public Health Dr Henrietta Ewart, who explained that the Manx Public Health Outcomes Framework (PHOF) now has an established list of indicators which are due to be published this summer. She added that PHOF follows the same methodology as Public Health England (PHE) to ensure accurate benchmarking.
Dr Ewart also spoke about the development of data analysis in improving the treatment of cancer and on the growing emphasis on joint working between public health, Primary Care and Secondary Care, and Tertiary Care through specialist cancer centres to monitor, review and improve services.
Minister for Health and Social Care Kate Beecroft MHK said: ‘Much good work has taken place to improve care for people who are diagnosed with cancer in the Isle of Man as the presentations at this event helped to illustrate.
‘It’s important to stress this work is ongoing, of course, and that colleagues are focussing their efforts on improving services for people who really need care in hospital, a commitment laid out in the Programme for Government.’