Working with primary care
The NHS Long Term plan outlines the ambition of diagnosing 75% of cancers at stage 1 and 2 by 2028. RM Partners is working with our Integrated Care System (ICS) partners, including primary care networks, to achieve this ambition for our patients in west London.
We are developing and implementing a range of interventions designed to increase the proportion of cancers diagnosed early. This work programme follows NHS England produced guidance for primary and secondary care on improving early cancer diagnosis, and includes projects aimed at:
- improving GP referral practice for suspected cancer
- supporting projects to increase uptake and coverage of national cancer screening programmes
- supporting the use of GP decision support tools
- monitoring of patients referred for suspected cancers
- establishment of Rapid Diagnostic Centres (RDCs)
- provision of patient information on cancer screening and symptoms of cancer
- provision of Targeted Lung Health Checks.
We have established a community of practice for clinical leadership to share good practice, horizon scan, and develop initiatives to improve early diagnosis of cancer. We host peer-to-peer learning events which improve understanding between primary and secondary care.
Improving referrals in primary care
Referrals by general practitioners account for the majority of cancer diagnoses. Therefore, it is essential that primary care clinical staff are supported to increase their knowledge of the signs and symptoms of cancer, and to understand the current referral pathways.
To assist with this, RM Partners supports a series of education events for primary care clinical staff. These are delivered in both face-to-face and virtual formats, and are customised to different clinical specialties.
We have commissioned the delivery of a two-year comprehensive cancer education programme for GPs as well as key primary care staff members, to support early cancer detection, upskill as a team, and deliver the best care possible to people living with and beyond cancer. We have also delivered a number of tumour and topic specific cancer education webinars for primary care staff, which have been developed and delivered jointly with cancer consultants from secondary care.
We also produce a comprehensive PCN DES resource document to improve quality of 2ww referrals well as condensed versions of guidance and top tips on good referral practice for high volume tumour groups for primary care.
Croydon cancer awareness project
The NHS Long Term ambition is that 75% of cancers are detected at stage one and two by 2028, It also aims to reduce health inequalities and there are structural and institutional reasons, as well as cultural and personal reasons, for the poorer health outcomes in Black and minority ethnic (BAME) communities. They are less likely to participate in screening and are less likely to receive follow up surveillance post treatment.
Given the ethnically diverse population of Croydon, where 51% of patients are from a Black or a minority ethnic background, there are likely to be higher levels of inequality in cancer outcomes. Participation in the screening programme is lower than the national target and England average (with the exception of cervical screening for women aged 50–64).
We have commissioned two community organisations – Croydon BME Forum and Asian Resource Centre of Croydon (ARCC) – to help raise awareness of cancer in these populations through co-designing and developing culturally specific communication materials and activities. The aims include:
- increasing participation in cancer screening programmes
- increasing awareness of the signs and symptoms of cancer and encourage attendance at primary care
- targeting messages regarding specific cancers that affect high-risk groups, such as prostate cancer in Afro Caribbean men
- decreasing stigma associated with cancer in some communities
- understanding the barriers BAME groups have in accessing healthcare
This project is focusing on members of Black and Asian communities in Croydon- particularly in geographical areas of multiple deprivation linked to GP practices and primary care networks with low screening uptake.