Latest news

Fri 18 August 2017

Nursing crisis leaves NHS Hospitals unsafe 

The Daily Mirror reports on an analysis by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) which found that more than nine in 10 of England’s 50 largest NHS hospital trusts are not adequately staffed with trained nurses.

Janet Davies Chief Executive and General Secretary at RCN  is quoted to say that more and more nurses are being replaced 'by cheaper, unqualified healthcare assistants'. The practice has raised concerns about mortality rates since it is believed that when the number of fully trained and registered nurses is reduced and the number of unskilled is increased, mortality rates rise significantly.

It is noted that the the number of people from Europe applying to become NHS nurses has fallen dramatically since the vote to leave the EU was announced.  The RCN has warned 'that Brexit will only make [the nurse shortage] worse'.

The article from The Daily Mirror can be accessed online here.

Fri 18 August 2017

Labour party publishes analysis of cancer patient treatment waiting times

The HuffPost UK reports on analysis from the Labour party that reveals the number of cancer patients waiting for treatment has increased.  It is reported that the latest quarterly figures released by Labour highlight that 26,710 patients waited for at least two months following an urgent GP referral, which is reportedly 87 per cent higher compared with the same period five years ago.

Further to this, statistics from NHS England in June, reveal that two of eight cancer targets were not met.  It is also reported that patients waiting two weeks or longer for their first appointment with a consultant also rose by 121 per cent .
Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth commented that, "cancer patients and their loved ones are being let down by this government", and the article notes that cancer treatment needs to be made more of a priority.

The article is from the HuffPost UK can be accessed online here.

Fri 28 July 2017

Latest quarterly figures published for emergency presentations of cancer

The National Cancer Registration and Analysis Services (NCRAS) has published quarterly data for its two cancer outcome metrics.

Emergency Presentations
This metric shows the estimated proportion of all malignant cancers (excluding non-melanoma skin cancer) which present as an emergency.

This data is available at a Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) level with the option to select a reference CCG alongside your chosen CCG.

Between October and December 2016, of 66,379 cancer patients who first presented in hospital, 12,678 (19.1 per cent) presented as an emergency.  This is a fall of 0.9 per cent from the previous quarter (July to September 2016).

Over the past three years the proportion of cancer patients presenting as an emergency has fallen for 123 CCGs, and either risen or remained unchanged for 86 CCGs.

The emergency presentation data is available here and a commentary on the data can be viewed here.

Stage at Diagnosis
This metric shows the proportion of ten cancer types (listed here) diagnosed in each quarter and what stage they are at the time of diagnosis.  The workbook can be viewed here.

Fri 28 July 2017

NHS releases first ratings of all 44 STPs

The Health Service Journal (HSJ) has reported that the NHS has released the first tranche of performance metrics for Sustainability and Performance Partnerships (STPs).  These metrics are contained within an 'STP progress dashboard'.

The 44 STPs have been rated for the first time on progress they have made, enabling organisations, patients and the public to hold their STP to account.  The ratings are:

  • Green: Outstanding (five STPs)
  • Yellow: Advanced (14 STPs)
  • Orange: Making progress (20 STPs)
  • Red: Needs most improvement (five STPs)

The ratings have been informed by a set of metrics that sit within nine domains, under three categories.  The cancer metrics contained within the patient focused change category are:

  • Per cent of cancers diagnosed at stage one or two
  • 62-day waits
  • Cancer patient experience score

Access the STP dashboard here and the HSJ article here.

Fri 28 July 2017

National survey shows cancer patients feel increasingly positive about their NHS care

NHS England (NHSE) has published the latest National Cancer Patient Experience Survey, 2016.

72,788 people with cancer gave their views on their care.  In particular, respondents gave an average rating of 8.74 when asked to rate their care on a scale of zero (very poor) to ten (very good).  This represents a statistically significant increase on last year's score.

The survey also identified improvements in people's opinions of their involvement in care and treatment decisions, and in their treatment with dignity and respect.

Areas for improvement, include follow up community and social care after treatment.

Professor Chris Harrison, National Clinical Director for Cancer at NHS England, commented:

“One of our key ambitions is to put cancer patient experience front and centre at a time when the NHS is successfully treating more patients for cancer than ever before, so this positive feedback from patients is an encouraging testament to the hard work of NHS staff.”

The story can be viewed on NHSE's website here and the full survey results are available here.

Mon 26 June 2017

NHS England to restructure senior management teams

NHS England has announced a restructure of its national senior management teams to enable it to deliver the Five Year Forward View (FYFV). This restructure marks a move away from its focus on planning and strategy.

The Commissioning Strategy directorate will be renamed as Strategy and Innovation and specialised commissioning is set to transfer to an expanded group under Paul Baumann, NHS England's Chief Financial Officer.

Matthew Swindells’ directorate, Operations and Information, is to be expanded giving it the largest brief with overall responsibility for the delivery of the FYFV. Mr Swindells’ remit will include primary care, and most of the FYFV improvement programmes including cancer and mental health. Former Director of Strategy, Michael Macdonnell has moved to a new role as Director of System Transformation where his work will be focused on the development of integrated health systems and incorporating work on new care models.

Recruitment for a new Medical Director and National Director for Transformation and Operations is expected to begin soon, following the departures of Sir Bruce Keogh and Karen Wheeler.

The Health Service Journal (HSJ) article on the restructure can be read here.

Mon 26 June 2017

UK's first proton beam therapy machine installed in Manchester

The Guardian reported on the installation of the UK's first proton beam therapy machine, at the Christie Centre in Manchester. The Christie Centre's 90-tonne proton beam therapy machine aims to open in August 2018, and to treat 750 patients per year. It marks the first time cancer patients in England will be able to receive proton beam therapy treatment, on the NHS, without having to travel abroad.

Since 2008 the NHS has been funding patients to travel outside England to receive the advanced form of treatment. Proton beam came fully into the public consciousness in 2014, when five year old Ashya King's parents took him to the Czech republic to receive the treatment, after being refused it on the NHS.

The Christie Centre's machine was installed on Thursday, with the assistance of a 90-metre crane to lower it into a bunker reinforced with 270 timber, steel and concrete posts.

University College London Hospital will open a second proton beam centre in the summer of 2020, following a £250 million investment from the Government to establish both centres.

The Guardian article can be read online here.

Mon 12 June 2017

Study finds patients living in rural areas are less likely to die from cancer

A study has found that patients living in rural areas are 29 per cent less likely to die from their disease than those in cities. Researchers postulated that it is easier to get GP appointments in rural areas, which results in better relationships with GPs and better care.

The study, published in the British Journal of General Practice, examined 926 Scottish patients with bowel cancer. The findings contradict earlier research which showed that people who had to travel further for treatment had a higher risk of dying.

Commenting on the findings Dr Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs said:

"It’s encouraging that this study demonstrates GPs and our teams in remote and rural areas are overcoming the specific challenges facing them, and delivering good cancer care. This should reassure patients who live in remote areas, and/or have longer travelling times to their local GP practice, that the quality of care that they receive is not affected”.

The story was covered by The Times here and and the British Journal of General Practice study can be read here.

Mon 12 June 2017

Experts predict, three quarters of cancer patients will survive for ten years within the next decade

The Daily Mail has reported on predictions from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Conference in Chicago, that within the next decade three quarters of cancer patients will survive for ten years.

Researchers indicated that by 2027, three quarters of patients in the US and UK could expect to live for at least a decade. As it currently stands in the UK roughly half of patients can expect to live for at least ten years.

Dr Richard Schilsky, senior vice president and chief medical officer of ASCO echoed the predictions saying: "A combination of better screening, earlier diagnosis and more effective therapy are contributing to slow but steady improvements in cancer therapy.  We can be extremely hopeful that we've come very far and the pace of progress is accelerating".

The article from The Daily Mail can be accessed online here.

Fri 21 April 2017

More than 100,000 wait at least two weeks to be seen by a cancer specialist

The Guardian has reported that more than 100,000 patients waited longer than two weeks to see a cancer specialist last year. This is despite them being urgently referred by their GP.

In 2016, 102,697 people did not see a consultant within two weeks of referral, according to analysis by the House of Commons Library. The research was requested by Jonathan Ashworth MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Health.

The Government target directs that 93 per cent of patients should be seen by a specialist within two weeks, this was achieved in 2015/16 with 94.3 per cent but was down from 95.9 per cent in 2011/12. The analysis found that 25 out of 157 NHS trusts did not meet the 93 per cent target.

A Department of Health spokesperson said: "“The NHS treated over 110,000 patients – 82 per cent – within the target of 62 days last year, as the NHS rises to the challenge of an increase in urgent referrals for suspected cancer of over 90 per cent compared to 2009/10”.

The Guardian article can be accessed online here.

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