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Hospital Healthcare Europe

‘One stop shops’ for cancer aim to speed up diagnosis

Kathy Oxtoby
9 April, 2018  

‘One stop shops’ aimed at speeding up cancer diagnosis are being rolled out across the country, NHS England has announced (3 April).

Rapid diagnostic and assessment centres are being piloted in ten areas as part of NHS England’s drive to catch cancer early and help save lives.

Each of the centres will operate in a different way to meet the needs of their local communities, NHS England said. All will aim to diagnose cancers early in people who do not have ‘alarm symptoms’ for a specific type of cancer.

People with vague, non-specific symptoms, such as unexplained weight loss, appetite loss or abdominal pain are often referred multiple times for different tests for different cancers. NHS England hopes these centres will help end this cycle.

If a GP or other healthcare professional suspect cancer they will be able to refer to a ‘one stop shop’ where all the necessary investigations can be done under one roof.

Some patients will receive a definitive diagnosis or all clear on the same day. Others will need to undergo further assessment, but can generally expect a diagnosis within two weeks of their first appointment, NHS England said.

The pilots make up the Accelerate, Co-ordinate and Evaluate (ACE 2) Early Diagnosis Programme, a joint initiative by NHS England, Cancer Research UK and Macmillan.

Cally Palmer, national director for cancer at NHS England, said:“Early diagnosis is crucial to saving lives and providing peace of mind for patients, which is why we are driving forward plans to revolutionise our approach to cancer in this country.

“These new one stop shops represent a real step change in the way people with unclear symptoms are identified, diagnosed and treated.”

Sara Hiom, Cancer Research UK’s director of early diagnosis, said theten pilot centres will give “a much better understanding of what’s needed to speed up the diagnosis and treatment of people with less obvious symptoms, improve their experience of care and, ultimately, survival”.

“This is a first for this country and Cancer Research UK is delighted to be partnering with NHS England in this innovative initiative. The knowledge gained will support others looking to roll out similar approaches in future,”she said.

The centres are spread across England, and the first ten are located at:

  • North Middlesex University Hospital,
  • University College London Hospital,
  • Southend University Hospital,
  • Queens Hospital,
  • Royal Free Hospital,
  • St James University Hospital,
  • Airedale General Hospital,
  • University Hospital South Manchester,
  • Royal Oldham Hospital,
  • Churchill Hospital.

The centres are part of NHS’s plan to meet the new faster diagnosis standard, where patients with suspected cancer should receive a diagnosis or the all clear within 28 days.

The idea for a multidisciplinary diagnostic centre originated in Denmark, and was developed in response to patients presenting with vague symptoms being referred for multiple tests, when they required an urgent diagnosis.

If the initiative is successful more centres will be established across England.