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A blog post by Dr David Crichton, Early Diagnosis Senior Responsible Officer

Hello, I’m Dr David Crichton a GP in Doncaster and the Chair of Doncaster Clinical Commissioning Group. I am also the Senior Responsible Officer for the South Yorkshire, Bassetlaw and North Derbyshire Cancer Alliance Early Diagnosis workstream.

The last financial year saw some great progress for the Early Diagnosis workstream; we have implemented a number of wide ranging projects across the patch, which we continue to develop.

Earlier this year, we launched Be Cancer Safe, a social movement for cancer awareness. More people in our region are diagnosed with cancer than the England average and we know that picking up cancers at an earlier stage greatly increases your chances of survival. Through a range of community based activities and initiatives, we endeavour to make sure everyone is aware of the signs and symptoms of cancer, know what screening is available to them and ultimately increase the number of people diagnosed early. The initiative will be particularly targeting those members of our communities who suffer health inequalities or are recognised as ‘hard to reach’ groups.

We are calling on people to become Be Cancer Safe Cancer Champions; ordinary people who help to spread awareness about cancer.  During their everyday life Cancer Champions share with others simple cancer messages and sign posting to services. Be Cancer Safe is coordinated by the Cancer Alliance and delivered by voluntary sector and health organisations in each area. Visit our website to find out how you can become a champion in your local community.

Another project we have established within Sheffield, Rotherham, Barnsley, Doncaster and North Derbyshire is the implementation of pathways for patients who present with non-specific but concerning symptoms. These projects are being led by our NHS Hospitals in partnership with CCGs and GPs locally. Each area is exploring the primary care access referral pathways for quicker tests for patients and better co-ordination for patients once they enter hospital.

We hope to make a big difference to improve survival and patient experience by; shortening the time from presentation to diagnosis, reducing the use of inpatient beds during cancer diagnosis, also reducing the number of A&E or GP visits before a cancer diagnosis, improving overall experience on the cancer pathway and diagnosing cancer at an earlier stage.

This project will be reviewed by the Cancer Alliance in autumn 2018 to help inform future pathway design.

In addition this year, we have attended a number of educational events for GPs across the region where we have discussed what the Cancer Alliance is, its work streams and the new pathways we are implementing. This has been a great way to get the word out about what we have been doing and keep primary care staff updated on our important developments. We still have some of these sessions to come later in the year.

The focus for our workstream going forward into 2018/19 is to review and evaluate the pathways which we have rolled out, to enable us to address any further changes needed. We will continue to implement the plans that have been piloted in 17/18, with the aim to improve quality and patient experience. We aspire to increased uptake of screening programmes, targeted communications and community development which should all ultimately increase cancer survivorship in our region.

Thanks for reading,