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Cancer Care Team scoops top award for patient safety

The winning team represents collaboration between Blackburn with Darwen CCG, East Lancashire CCG, and East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust. The team, led by Dr Neil Smith, a local GP, and Mrs Lynn Scott, Cancer Commissioning Manager was praised by the judges for their efforts, working in partnership with ELHT, Macmillan and other partners to ensure delivery of consistently safe, excellent care.

In particular, the judges highlighted the success of services in reducing instances of harmful delayed diagnosis, including timely referral to specialist services when needed, strategies to improve the safety of treatment, and support for self-management. The work of the team has resulted in the establishment of coherent services for cancer survivors that address the disease’s long-term effects, helping patients to remain safe, well and supported.

Dr Neil Smith, who is a Blackburn GP and the GP lead for Cancer Commissioning in the area said: “I am delighted that collectively everyone in Pennine Lancashire have won this prestigious award. It is testament to the joint working, efforts and commitment of everyone who delivers cancer services in the area, working in partnership with patients and the voluntary sector.

While we have achieved a great deal in ensuring that symptoms of cancer are spotted earlier, and improving the treatment for patients if they have a diagnosis of cancer, there is much more we can do.

When patients are referred by their GP to hospital for a check up to ensure that their symptoms are not cancer, unfortunately a significant number of patients simply don’t go or delay this important check up . It’s a missed opportunity and while it is only a small number of patients who will have cancer, its one of the best ways of ruling it out and giving people peace of mind. We know if patients are diagnosed early, and treated early, they have a better chance of surviving cancer”.

Michelle Pilling, Deputy Chair of East Lancashire CCG and Chair of the Quality and Safety Committee at the CCG said: “I am really pleased for the teams who have worked so hard to improve cancer services in the area. This award recognises the collaborative work taking place across cancer teams locally who are committed to improving cancer care. It is testament to the dedication of staff who are determined to improve the quality of care for patients affected by this terrible disease”.

Dr Malcolm Ridgway, Blackburn GP and Clinical Director, Quality and Effectiveness at Blackburn with Darwen CCG said: “It is a fantastic achievement, particularly when the two CCGs were up against some stiff competition from some well known national centres of excellence for cancer services. The team working with services have helped to transform how we support patients with cancer. It’s a collective effort and has resulted in improvements in cancer care, so this award is a fitting accolade.”

More than one in three people will develop some form of cancer during their lifetime. An ageing population, earlier detection and more effective treatment means that the number of people living with and beyond cancer is steadily increasing.

Over the last two years, health professionals in East Lancashire have created a network of GP practice cancer champions who can support patients and improve care. Early detection of cancer is one of the corner stones of high quality cancer care. The award winning submission also described how the team have improved practice nurse education and training so that nurses have a better awareness of cancer and can identify symptoms earlier. In addition, the team have improved the numbers of people using cancer screening which has supported early detection by GPs with the aim of early diagnosis or reassurance for patients.