To ensure that cancer patients get timely and appropriate care through the COVID-19 crisis, RM Partners is working with our provider organisations and other key stakeholders to strengthen our network approach to service delivery.

The aim of the networked approach is to ensure that NHS hospitals are able to deliver as much care and treatment to cancer patients as possible across our geography. It will also support hospitals across the NHS and independent sector to work together to maximise capacity and ensure that people receive the care that they need.

The network will support the delivery of cancer services from diagnosis to treatment, during all phases of the COVID recovery period. The approach will be flexible to allow increased support if required, should there be an increase in COVID cases during the recovery period.

Diagnostics

Sharing diagnostic capacity across the whole of west London, both in the NHS and the independent sector, is central to ensuring that people receive timely and safe care. This work will be underpinned by the principle of offering diagnostics as close to the patient’s home or hospital as possible.

Patients will be stratified for diagnostics by specialist hospital clinicians, ensuring that those who need assessment most urgently receive this. The criteria for assessing priority will be agreed by senior specialists across London, which will ensure a consistent and equitable approach regardless of where a patient lives. For specialist interventions which are not routinely delivered in most hospitals, e.g. PET scans, patients may have to travel further.

The patient’s test results will be returned to their referring doctor who will advise the patient of these and discuss any next steps, for instance, a treatment plan, active surveillance or discharge.

These principles apply to patients who are currently on NHS Trust lists waiting for diagnostics as well as those who will be referred by their GP, who present at hospital directly, or are referred via cancer screening programmes.

Surgery

Cancer surgery services across London are now being coordinated by specialist ‘cancer hubs’ led by The Royal Marsden hospital, University College London Hospitals and Guys and St Thomas’ Hospital. In the event that the patient’s local Trust cannot accommodate them for their surgery they are referred to their local cancer hub to be allocated surgery. Patients in west London will be referred to the RM Cancer Hub, based at The Royal Marsden and supported by RM Partners.

Patients will remain under the care of their doctor or nurse specialist at the Trust where they are currently being cared for. However, they may move to another site for surgery. Patients should continue to work with their local clinical team, who will make all the necessary arrangements with the cancer hub.

Decisions about the best approach to treatment will continue to be taken by these specialist cancer clinicians with their patients.

Chemotherapy

Plans are being developed pan-London to support the continued delivery of chemotherapy for NHS Trusts. This includes supporting the effective use of private sector capacity.

To support the delivery of subcutaneous Systemic Anti-Cancer Therapy (SACT) in the community, a range of resources have been developed. These, along with a patient information video, will be available for use across RM Partners.

These resources include:

  • Patient information: Step-by-step instructions for administering subcutaneous denosumab, trastuzumab, bortezomib and cytarabine
  • Policy and procedure: Patient/carer administration of subcutaneous Systemic Anti-Cancer Therapy (SACT) in the community
  • Policy: Patient/carer administration of subcutaneous injections at home

The resources will be shared directly with pharmacy and nursing leads at RM Partners Trusts for use as needed. Please contact us if you would like any of this information at rmpartners.admin@nhs.net