The Friarage Hospital has launched a leading edge cancer service to provide faster diagnosis for patients who do not have obvious cancer symptoms.
If a GP is concerned that a patient may have cancer, but they only have vague symptoms and do not meet the usual criteria for an urgent two week cancer referral, they can now book them into the rapid diagnostic centre (RDC) for further tests.
Based in the Northallerton hospital’s Wensleydale Suite, the service aims to promote faster diagnosis and treatment to help improve recovery and survival rates.
Patients’ symptoms are assessed holistically and an individualised programme of diagnostic tests provided as quickly as possible.
Symptoms may include abdominal pain, unintentional weightloss, persistent fatigue or loss of appetite.
These symptoms may be caused by a number of common conditions, but if a GP or an emergency department clinician believes they require further investigation by a hospital specialist team they can now be seen within two weeks.
The RDC is already benefitting patients across Hambleton and Richmondshire and is set to be rolled out across the South Tees area over the next six months.
Chris Blackham, RDC advanced nurse practitioner said: “It’s really beneficial to patient outcomes and survival rates to get a diagnosis sooner.
“Too many people are being diagnosed with cancer at a late stage which means they have fewer treatment options. Our focus is on early detection and rapid referral to ensure those prospects are improved.”
The service opened its doors in June and statistics show 28% of patients assessed at the centre have been transferred to the care of cancer specialists at South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Others have been diagnosed with a longterm condition or referred for mental health support.
Carole Goodchild, RDC service improvement lead said: “This is the next big step forward for cancer treatment and it’s great that the Friarage is one of the UK centres leading the way.
“Patient feedback has been really positive so far. People feel that someone is really listening to them and getting them through the system quicker.”