An HSJ and GenesisCare roundtable discussed how the personalised approach increasingly applied to cancer treatments also needs to be applied to cancer waits. By Claire Read
Performance against cancer waiting time targets has been gradually but steadily worsening in recent years. Fewer patients are being seen within 14 days of a referral for suspected cancer – though the figure still sits at 90 per cent – and performance on the 62-day target from such a referral to treatment when cancer is diagnosed has declined by four and a half percentage points in the last three years.
In this context, HSJ brought together a small panel of experts to discuss just how that trend could be reversed and waiting times for cancer patients cut. The resulting roundtable debate, which was held in association with GenesisCare, identified some key challenges to overcome – most notably workforce and equipment availability in diagnostics – as well as some means of so doing. All agreed that a greater degree of partnership working would be vital.
But over the whole debate hung a very important question. Are waiting times actually the right realm on which to focus if there is a desire to improve cancer care? For many panellists, the current targets remain blunt tools being applied to a complex situation. Instead, they suggested the personalised approach increasingly applied to cancer treatments also needs to be applied to cancer waits.
- Anthony Cunliffe, national lead GP advisor, Macmillan Cancer Support and co-clinical chair, South East London Cancer Alliance
- Mary Emurla, director, East of England Cancer Alliance
- Dan Ford, consultant clinical oncologist, University Hospitals Birmingham Foundation Trust and GenesisCare; clinical lead, Pan Birmingham Cancer Research Network
- Joe Harrison, chief executive, Milton Keynes University Hospital FT
- Laura Kerby, chief executive, Penny Brohn UK
- James McArthur, general manager UK, GenesisCare
- Alison Moore, HSJ (roundtable chair)
- Roger Spencer, chief executive, The Christie FT
- Lynda Thomas, chief executive, Macmillan Cancer Support