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Project to shorten cancer pathway expands

A second group of cancer multidisciplinary teams (MDTs) has joined a project to minimise the time taken to diagnose cancer.

Five teams from Betsi Cadwaladr, Swansea Bay and Aneurin Bevan University Health Board have joined the Suspected Cancer Pathways project, which aims to find opportunities to reduce the time between suspicion of cancer and diagnosis throughout Wales.

Funded by the National Strategic Clinical Network for Cancer and implemented in partnership with Improvement Cymru and vehicle manufacturer Toyota, the project supports participating MDTs to apply Lean production principles to streamline the patient pathways for suspected cancers.

As part of the project, participating cancer MDTs are working with Toyota to understand how principles from its Toyota Production System can be applied to their pathways, while experts from Improvement Cymru are supporting teams to develop and implement their change ideas.

Introducing the new cohort means that seven cancer MDTs throughout Wales are now undertaking work to improve suspected cancer pathways for lung, gynaecological, urological, colorectal, and gastrointestinal cancers, surfacing learning that can be shared to improve cancer services across Wales.

Dr Jeff Turner, Suspected Cancer Pathway Clinical Lead for the National Strategic Clinical Network for Cancer, NHS Executive, said: “This partnership working across organisations has successfully helped identify different ways of working to improve efficiencies across a variety of cancer pathways, with ongoing support from Improvement Cymru to embed change.”

The Suspected Cancer Pathways project has already seen Aneurin Bevan University Health Board test new approaches to classifying, organising and managing pathology samples to improve processing speed and capacity for urgent suspected cancer samples for colorectal patients.

Elsewhere, Hywel Dda UHB is working to introduce same day staging for patients with suspected lower gastrointestinal cancers, so that patients who require a CT scan following a colonoscopy can receive it on the same day.

Iain Roberts, Improvement Cymru head of programmes, said: “Together with the National Strategic Clinical Network for Cancer we are delighted to have expanded the Suspected Cancer Pathways project, furthering the opportunity to identify learning that can support cancer services throughout Wales to streamline suspected cancer pathways.

“We are already seeing some shoots of promise from the project’s first group of MDTs. We’re very much looking forward to continue encouraging their good work, as well as supporting the project’s new teams to unearth further potential improvements.”

Find out more about Suspected Cancer Pathways on the Wales Cancer Network website.

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