Publish date: 18 February 2019

Lung cancer patients in Cheshire and Merseyside are being assessed, diagnosed and beginning their cancer treatment more quickly, thanks to radical changes to patient pathways.

Cheshire and Merseyside Cancer Alliance has been working in partnership with acute and specialist providers across the region to introduce a standardised lung cancer pathway which covers the patient’s journey from the initial suspicion of cancer, investigation and diagnosis through to treatment.

This initiative builds on the National Optimal Lung Cancer Pathway and has led to a range of improvements including the introduction of virtual working which has removed unnecessary hospital visits and created additional clinical capacity. The impact of these changes has reduced time from GP referral to patients’ first scan and subsequent diagnosis.

Under national standards, patients referred with a suspicion of cancer should be seen within two weeks and begin their treatment within 62 days.  Improvements in the lung cancer pathway have had a direct impact on treatment times.  In December 2018, 84.2% of patients  received their treatment in line with the standard compared with 82.6% in December 2016 prior to these changes. Cheshire and Merseyside have consistently been top or second best performer over the last two years.

Cancer diagnosis and treatment is provided by a range of hospitals and clinics with patients often receiving services from more than one hospital, making it vitally important for joined up working throughout the patient’s cancer journey.

Cheshire and Merseyside Programme Manager, Sarah Hardy-Pickering said: ‘At the heart of the Alliance is a drive to transform cancer care and improve services for thousands of patients.  We want to reduce the worry that people might experience with a long wait for diagnosis or treatment and ultimately improve their outcome.’

Dr Julie Hendry from St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospital NHS Trust and Clinical Lead for the project added: ‘This project was an exciting opportunity for those involved in the delivery of lung cancer care across Cheshire and Merseyside because all of us recognised the need for change. 

We will continue to build upon the success of the project and work with Trusts across the region to enhance the experience of lung cancer patients.’