People with cancer or suspected cancer would receive faster, safer, and higher quality care, under proposals being put forward by hospital doctors as part of a public consultation.
Proposals to invest up to £900 million across hospitals in north and mid Hampshire would see a brand new cancer treatment centre developed at a new specialist acute hospital, which would be built on the current Basingstoke Hospital site, or near to Junction 7 of the M3.
Speaking in advance of World Cancer Day on Sunday 4 February, Dr Charlotte Hutchings, a local GP and Clinical Director for North and Mid Hampshire at NHS Hampshire and Isle of Wight Integrated Care Board, said: “We want to significantly improve the quality of care that we provide to people with cancer, and with suspected cancer.
“We want to make sure diagnostic tests and scans are easy to access, with results available swiftly. New ‘one-stop’ clinics will mean patients can combine three or four traditional outpatient appointments into one visit, and rapid results from tests will mean we can start their treatment sooner.
“There are, of course, numerous types of cancer, and everyone experiences their illness, diagnosis, care and treatment differently. We want to make sure that the care we give people and their families is tailored and personalised as much as possible.”
The new cancer treatment centre would be based at the specialist acute hospital. Bringing cancer specialists together onto one site would mean experts are working alongside each other every day, making it easier to discuss specialist treatments, discuss latest research, and offer patients the chance to take part in clinical trials for new treatments.
The proposals would see most surgery for cancer carried out at the new dedicated planned surgery centre at Winchester, which would aim to improve quality, and clinical outcomes, as experienced surgeons would see and treat more cases than they do now, with cancer services split over two sites.
Furthermore, because planned surgery and emergency surgery would take place in separate hospitals under the proposals, people’s planned cancer operations are less likely to be cancelled at short notice because beds, operating theatres and staff are needed to deal with emergency admissions.
Mr Steve Arnold, Consultant Surgeon and Associate Medical Director for Cancer Services at Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “New and developing technology would mean we can work better with our colleagues in public health and our local GPs, as well as expand our work with local community groups, with education around reducing the risk of cancer and spotting the early signs.
“We’re also looking at innovative ways to detect cancer earlier, such as a blood test that looks for early signs of cancer by measuring certain proteins in the blood that may be released by tumour cells. There have been some promising early trials, and it is now being expanded to see if this can be used in a bigger population to detect early stages of cancer.
“GPs would be able to refer patients with suspected cancer directly to the best specific test to look for cancer, or to new ‘one-stop’ clinics, where patients would get support from clinical nurse specialists and other healthcare professionals. With this new investment, we would be able to phase out our older diagnostic equipment and bring in modern replacements. Future investment will aim to allow everyone to access diagnostic testing closer to their home.”
“The cancer treatment centre would provide comprehensive cancer services, therapies, advice, and information to help improve the experiences of people living with, and beyond, cancer for all local people affected by the disease.“
Having cancer specialists located in the same centre, rather than split across two sites, would enable clinicians to make decisions and treatment recommendations more rapidly. These include:
- surgery: which would be undertaken at Winchester hospital if it is not complex, or at the specialist acute hospital if services such as critical care are required
- oncology: the proposals would see a ‘one-stop’ outpatient assessment and a dedicated cancer ward at the new hospital (currently there is no dedicated ward in either Basingstoke or Winchester hospital)
- chemotherapy: teams would aim to deliver chemotherapy in patients’ own homes or as locally as possible, with intravenous chemotherapy provided from the cancer treatment centre, co-located with inpatient cancer services
- radiotherapy (for adults): would be provided from the new specialist acute hospital, closely networked with University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust (UHS) and other NHS organisations to ensure all patients get the best care, regardless of where they live. Radiotherapy for children will continue to be provided by specialist centres as it is currently
- children’s cancer services: by bringing services together on one site, clinicians would be able to offer chemotherapy without the need for children and families to stay overnight, for the first time. This would benefit families as it is quicker, requires less travel, and means children spend less time in hospital
- supportive care: this would be provided at home, in the community, and in the patient’s most local hospital possible, supporting people to keep as well as possible during and after treatment
- diagnostics and treatment: such as endoscopies or blood transfusions, would be provided as locally as possible, including at the new cancer treatment centre
- palliative (end of life) care: would be based on the patient’s choice and would be provided either in the patient’s home, hospices, or through hospice and outpatient services as locally as possible.
The benefits of this approach would mean that:
- care would be personalised according to people’s lives, needs and priorities
- waiting times would be reduced, both for initial diagnosis and referral to treatment
- travel time and inconvenience could be reduced for patients who currently need to travel to other sites for treatments and appointments, and some patients will be able to receive care in their own home
- accessibility would be easier if hospital care is required, and some patients will be able to receive care in their own home
- different clinical teams would be able to work more closely together, with a focus on specific bringing different specialists together, meaning patients would benefit from their combined expertise
- patients would have access to the latest treatments for their conditions, including improved access to clinical trials
- better clinical care for patients with cancer in emergencies, because cancer services would be located alongside the emergency department, giving access to a wider range of specialists
- supportive care would be integrated with conventional treatment, so that patients are cared for as individuals, rather than a focus on their conditions
- people affected by cancer would be more empowered to take control of their care by being provided with the tools, knowledge, and support to cope with the impact of the cancer diagnosis, including managing the side effects of treatment, financial impact, and emotions of living with or after cancer.
Get involved and have your say
To find out more, attend an event, or complete the questionnaire, visit www.hampshiretogether.nhs.uk. The consultation is open until midnight on 17 March 2024.
There is a listening event for people with lived experience of cancer on Wednesday 14 February, from 10.30am until 12noon. To register, visit: www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/wessex-cancer-alliance-virtual-listening-event-wednesday-14-february-2024-tickets-810253559207?aff=oddtdtcreator.