A trial by the Southern Trust, supported by Integrated Care Partnerships, the Southern LCG and NI Project ECHO, to speed up lung cancer diagnosis, has been honoured with a prestigious national Macmillan Cancer Support award.
The GP Direct Access project team at Southern Trust, in partnership with the Southern Integrated Care Partnership (ICP), won the Integration Excellence Award which recognises those who have improved coordination of services to provide a seamless experience for people living with cancer.
Led by Southern LCG chair and Macmillan GP Advisor Dr Gerry Millar, the team was nominated by colleagues for developing a new lung cancer initiative. They identified an opportunity for GPs to refer patients for specialist low dose CT scans which can detect lung cancer at an early stage.
Historically, lung cancer patients have low survival outcomes because they are usually diagnosed at an advanced stage due to lack of obvious early signs and symptoms. This new initiative has significantly reduced the amount of time that patients and their families spend anxiously waiting for appointments and test results.
Dr Gerry Millar said: “Early lung cancer is very difficult to diagnose clinically and GPs now have a fast track scan option. Previously, we would have sent them to hospital as a red flag referral, but now we can send them for a scan straight away. It’s better for patients and their families, and it’s good for GPs too because we feel that we’re really empowering them.”
“In our first nine months we saved 265 red flag referrals, and we also picked up five early cancers, so we decreased workload for secondary care staff. We’ve set an example and proven that primary care GPs are responsible with scarce secondary care resources like CT scans.”
Congratulating the team on their win, Health and Social Care Board chair, Les Drew said: “This is further proof of the excellent and valuable work being undertaken jointly by LCGs, ICPs and Trusts.”
Meanwhile, a second ICP-supported initiative has also scooped an award.
The review and redesign of a service for young people living with Type 1 diabetes, which led to a hospital outpatient clinic moving to a local leisure centre, won the Diabetes Project of the Year award at the recent NI Healthcare Awards.
The move – from Daisy Hill Hospital to Newry Leisure Centre – aimed to improve the experience for young people, children and their parents and carers.
As well as providing a soft play area for younger children and supported activities for older children, it also gave parents the opportunity to meet and share experiences.
The team continued to provide diabetes management and education, while some basic health checks were also available for parents. A health tracker was developed to help patients and their parents / carers to improve their health outcomes together, if they so wished.
The project, supported by Southern LCG and Diabetes Network NI, was led by the Southern ICP partnered with the Southern Trust Paediatric and Adolescent Type 1 Diabetes Service, Newry Mourne and Down District Council leisure centre team and the local T1D service user and carer group for young people living with diabetes. It was funded by Diabetes UKNI.
Newry Mourne and Down District Council Chairperson, Councillor Cathy Mason said; “A diagnosis of diabetes, like any chronic condition, can be a stressful event not only for the individuals themselves but also their wider family. We were delighted that we could facilitate the Paediatric Diabetes Outpatient Clinic in Newry Leisure Centre as well as offer our soft play area to Young People Living with Diabetes and their siblings.
“We were also pleased to offer a dedicated sports coach to engage with older children so that attending the Paediatric Diabetes Clinics could be a more enjoyable experience for all and enable supported coaching as part of their visit.
‘‘We are proud that Newry Mourne and Down District Council could play a small part in supporting those with diabetes and their wider families within our district.”