RM Partners has launched free NHS lung health checks in Sutton in a drive to improve earlier diagnosis of lung conditions, including cancer. This new initiative means more than 17,000 past and current smokers aged 55 to 74 in the borough will be invited take part.

The project was officially launched on Tuesday 22 June at the mobile site in Cheam to celebrate the beginning of this new service. We were delighted to welcome Cllr Trish Fivey, Madam Mayor of Sutton and Dr Dino Pardhanani, Clinical Chair, NHS Sutton, who were able to have a tour of the mobile unit and find out more about the project.

Also attending were clinicians from primary and secondary care who are working together to deliver the programme. A stand with information about the service drew shoppers interested in finding out more about the checks.

Sutton has some of the highest rates of incidence and mortality in west London and over 60% of lung cancers are diagnosed at stage 4 (2017 data). Because of this, it is one of 23 sites across the country chosen to run the NHS England Targeted Lung Health Check programme.

Lung cancer is by far the most common cause of death from cancer in the UK because there are rarely symptoms in the earlier stages. This means many people are diagnosed late, when treatment has a more limited impact. The aim of the lung health check is to diagnose lung conditions earlier to help improve outcomes, and to reduce deaths from lung cancer.

The lung health check takes place in two stages. The first is an initial phone assessment with a specially trained respiratory nurse. If the assessment finds the person to be at high risk, they are offered a low dose CT scan of the lungs for further investigation. Sutton patients will be invited to have theirs in a mobile scanner based in the Tesco car park in Cheam.

Patients can be assured that the team carries out a range of measures to keep everyone safe, including wearing personal protective equipment and robust cleaning procedures.

The mobile unit will be available for two weeks a month until September 2022.

If patients need further assessment or treatment following their scan, they will be referred on to local services such as Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust or The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust in Sutton.

Dr Vinesh Patel, local GP and GP clinical lead for Cancer in Sutton said:  “With great partnership work and collaboration between Sutton GPs, Royal Brompton Hospital, Epsom and St Helier Hospital, The Royal Marsden, and RM Partners, we are excited to roll out the Targeted Lung Health Checks project in Sutton. Patients who are eligible, following a health check screen, may be offered a low dose CT scan on their lungs. The aim is to pick up lung cancers, and other lung-related health problems at an earlier stage, with better outcomes for our patients needing treatment. The outcomes from this project will also be able to help shape the future of the National Targeted Screening programmes which will be rolled out over the coming years”

Dr Richard Lee Consultant Respiratory Physician at The Royal Marsden and Joint National Clinical Lead for the NHS England Targeted Lung Health Checks Programme said: “The roll out of the Targeted Lung Health Checks project in Sutton is an exciting step towards accelerating early diagnosis and improving outcomes for patients. When cancer is caught sooner, we have a much better chance of being able to treat it successfully, often with less invasive procedures and fewer long-term side effects. It’s thanks to great team work and a collaborative effort across a number of national and regional partners that we’re able to mark this milestone, which will ultimately help us save more lives.

The project is a collaboration between RM Partners, the West London Cancer Alliance hosted by The Royal Marsden, Royal Brompton Hospital, and NHS South West London CCG. RM Partners is also supporting a similar service offering lung health checks in Hammersmith and Fulham and in Hillingdon.

More information on lung health checks in west London is available at: lunghealthchecks-westlondon.nhs.uk