Prevention, awareness and screening
The NHS Long Term Plan (LTP) commits to a target of diagnosing 75% of cancers at stage 1 and 2 by 2028. Early diagnosis of cancer is strongly associated with more successful treatment. Helping people to become more aware of signs and symptoms of cancer, and ensuring regular participation in screening programmes, is central to increasing the rate of early diagnosis of cancer.
For example, 33% of breast cancer cases are detected via the national breast cancer screening programme, and cervical cancer can be prevented through routine screening. People who are diagnosed with bowel cancer via the bowel screening programme are 27% less likely to die of bowel cancer.
RM Partners is working with our Integrated Care System (ICS) partners, including primary care networks, screening centres, and screening hubs, to encourage screening participation to achieve the national screening targets.
The focus of our screening projects is to:
- Support the three national screening programmes – bowel, breast and cervical – to ensure that everyone who is due a screen receives an invitation in a timely manner.
- Reduce variation in performance across west London, ensuring that regardless of where people live, they have equitable access to screening.
- Reduce inequalities in accessing the screening programmes by using data to identify who is least likely to attend screening, for example because of their age, ethnicity, or social deprivation, and then planning projects which increase participation by people in these groups.
Increasing public awareness of cancer
Increasing public awareness of cancer symptoms can help to encourage timely presentation and lead to earlier diagnosis. We work closely with our ICS colleagues on local communication campaigns that complement national activity to raise public awareness of cancer symptoms, and which encourage people to contact their GP practice if they notice anything unusual for them.
We also support local communication campaigns to encourage participation in national screening programmes, particularly in communities and groups that may not participate widely.
For more information on our primary care and screening programme please contact Claire Barry (Claire.Barry@nhs.net).
Screening improvement facilitators
RM Partners is committed to helping reduce variations in performance in national cancer screening programmes and reduce inequalities in patient participation across west London.
To assist with this, we have commissioned Community Links/Catch 22 to provide facilitators in both north west and south west London to work with primary care practices with low bowel and cervical screening uptake.
As part of their role, the screening improvement facilitators visit these practices and with the practice team:
- review the latest screening performance data (obtained from the RM Partners screening dashboard, which includes individual GP practice and PCN data)
- facilitate discussions to identify barriers to uptake
- identify strengths and areas for improvement
- share best practice from across west London and other Alliances
- provide support with developing and implementing action plans for the practices
This two year programme started in April 2022. Early insights have found there are recurring themes in relation to barriers to participation. These include:
- language, for instance not having English as a first language
- lack of understanding about the importance of screening
- lack of knowledge and awareness about cancer screening, including what screening is intended to do, that it is a national programme, and that it is free
- lack of resources at practices, for example not enough qualified cervical screening sample takers, administration staff not having time to undertake reminder calls to patient who do have not responded to their screening invitation.
For more information please contact Claire Barry: Claire.Barry@nhs.net