ACE2 cancer pilot project
Airedale Hospital is taking part in a national pilot to change the way patients with cancer symptoms are referred.
The trust is one of five hospital sites across the UK taking part in the pilot project to make positive changes to the way in which patients with concerning cancer symptoms are being referred, to give them rapid access to diagnostic tests.
The pilot sites, including Airedale, are taking part in the second phase of the National Accelerate Coordinate Evaluate (ACE) project, an early diagnosis initiative delivered alongside NHS England, Cancer Research and Macmillan Cancer Support. The aim of the project is to deliver a new streamlined patient cancer pathway for patients with vague, non-specific but concerning cancer symptoms who do not meet the criteria for the existing cancer pathway or for those patients who are too unwell to wait.
Patients are contacted by a Cancer Clinical Nurse Specialist from Airedale within 24-48 hours of their referral to discuss their symptoms in detail – something which is just not possible within the confines of a regular GP appointment. Depending on symptoms, patients are then booked in for diagnostic tests (if appropriate) prior to being seen in clinic.
Over the first six months of the pilot, the service has received over 70 referrals, all of whom have been seen more quickly than they would have been had the project not been in place.
Claire Waddington, Clinical Nurse Specialist, recalls one particular instance where a patient was able to be consulted over the phone rather than being admitted. She says; “We had a referral from A&E for a patient presenting with symptoms which were concerning for cancer. Instead of the patient being admitted into the hospital from A&E, the Consultant referred him to the ACE service and the patient was able to go home as he was well enough.
“We were then able to ring the patient the next day to discuss his symptoms over the phone, request further tests and he was seen in clinic within 48 hours. The A&E Consultant who referred him questioned how he would have dealt with this patient had the ACE service not been available; the patient probably would have faced an unnecessary hospital stay of a few days.
“The pilot enables us to make a difference to the way in which patients are seen and how resources are used, it eliminates unnecessary outpatient appointments and it has the potential to reduce hospital admissions. Most importantly, it has a positive impact on the patient’s experience.”
The pilot is so far proving successful at improving patient outcomes by reducing cancer waiting times and providing diagnosis sooner, as well as saving hospital resources. It is hoped that the scheme could be rolled out across the country.