A new CT Chest service for GPs in Salford is helping speed up assessment of ‘lower risk’ cases for potential lung cancer and helping reduce patient anxiety, according to new research being presented at the British Thoracic Society Winter Meeting.
Previously all patients with possible ‘signs’ were informed by the GP of the possibility of cancer – and then referred through the two week wait (2WW) system to a hospital cancer clinic.
The innovative CATCH (Community Access to Chest CT) system, being trialled in Salford, allows GPs to fast track ‘low risk’ patients directly to hospital radiologists rather than through the cancer clinic, avoiding the need to discuss the possibility of cancer at this early stage.
The study conducted by Manchester Medical School, Salford Clinical Commissioning Group and Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust reviewed 46 patients referred to CATCH, over a period of five months.
The results showed that 6 in 10 of the sample (28 out of 46 patients) required no follow up and were clear. Only seven patients (15 per cent of the sample) needed urgent two week wait referrals to the cancer clinic.
Dr Simon Taggart, consultant lung specialist from Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust, and member of the British Thoracic Society said:
“Historically we had a large amount of patients attending the lung cancer clinics, sometimes for the faintest shadow on an x-ray. This often caused immense stress and anxiety in the wait before scans and results.
We witnessed the palpable relief when, after two weeks of worry, they were told that their scan was clear.
In a bid to crack the problem, we have created the entirely unique CATCH referral system, where a patient is simply told they need another check – with no mention of cancer. They are then referred for a regular CT scan at the hospital – rather than attending a specialist lung cancer clinic.
The other advantage is a reduction in 2WW referrals to the clinic by more than a third allowing the consultants to focus on patients most likely to have lung cancer and concentrate on their often complex needs. So care is improving all round.’
Source: British Thoracic Society Winter Meeting