A new scheme has been launched to ‘buddy’ trusts struggling to deliver a good care experience to cancer patients with higher performing trusts.

The NHS Improving Quality initiative will involve trusts that were highly rated in the last cancer patient experience survey supporting trusts that rated poorly.

The aim of the scheme is to “spread and accelerate innovative practice via peer to peer support and learning”.

St George’s Hospital

St George’s Healthcare Trust was ranked as one of the best performing trusts

Five top performing trusts have agreed to act as “mentors” to five poor performers that volunteered to participate in the scheme (see table, below).

The mentors include three trusts ranked by Macmillan Cancer Support as being in the top 10 best performing trusts in the country based on the 2014 cancer patient experience survey. They are St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals Trust, Harrogate and District, and South Devon Healthcare foundation trusts.

The trusts that volunteered for support include three ranked by Macmillan as being in bottom 10 performers: Ashford and St Peter’s Hospital FT, Milton Keynes Hospital FT and North Middlesex University Hospital Trust.

The trusts will work together to develop improvement plans that will be implemented between February and July.

At the end of the scheme NHS Improving Quality will carry out an evaluation to assess the impact of the buddying, with a report expected to be published by the end of the year.

Jane Whitman, head of NHS Improving Quality’s experience of care programme, said all the trusts that volunteered to participate in the “pioneering” scheme had shown “an outstanding commitment to improving cancer patients’ experience of care”.

“It is important that where we know we can improve NHS services, we do everything we can to help organisations to make that happen in a supportive, not punitive, way,” she added.

Sean Duffy, NHS England’s national clinical director for cancer, said that while the survey results showed cancer patients’ experience of care was improving, “there was still more that could be done”.

He added: “This scheme is a great example of how we can take the results of an important survey and use them to drive swift action to improve patient care.”

The trusts involved in the scheme and the buddying relationships are:

Poorer performing trustHigher performing ‘mentor’
Ashford and St Peter’s Hospital Foundation TrustSt Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals Trust
Milton Keynes Hospital Foundation TrustHarrogate and District Foundation Trust
North Middlesex University Hospital TrustSouth Devon Healthcare Foundation Trust
Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital TrustSt George’s Healthcare Trust
University Hospitals Bristol Foundation TrustSouth Tees Hospitals Foundation Trust