Published on: Friday 26th January 2018

Health and care services across Wakefield are joining forces to offer a new approach to delivering earlier diagnosis and reducing the prevalence of one of the region’s biggest killers.

Members of Wakefield’s Health and Wellbeing Board have agreed proposals put forward by Professor Sean Duffy – Clinical Lead for the West Yorkshire and Harrogate Cancer Alliance - for a wide-ranging programme of work to tackle lung cancer across the district, through four specific programmes of work:

Support people to stop smoking, including those already receiving treatment in the NHS for smoking-related illnesses, by using every patient contact to offer help to quit

Raise awareness of early signs and symptoms; so people seek information and advice earlier than is often the case, making more cancers curable

Develop a community-based pilot ‘lung health check’ scheme for those identified as most at risk of cancer, using low dose CT scanning in community venues, such as supermarket or community centre car parks

Improve the experience for those affected by lung cancer by ensuring care and treatment pathways are as speedy and efficient as possible

Wakefield and Bradford have been highlighted as two key areas for the initial phase of the Alliance-backed programme, as they offer the greatest potential for change in patient outcomes, due to current higher level of smoking and poor health outcomes related to this.

The Wakefield Health and Wellbeing Board brings together key organisations to oversee the plans for improving the health and wellbeing of the people of Wakefield. Tobacco control is one of the three key priorities for the Board.

The proposal accepted creates a local health and care partnership between the local council, providers of NHS services (hospitals, mental health, GPs and community services) and commissioning organisations to be established in order to drive the four-pronged programme.

Regional funding of £12.4million has already been secured by the Cancer Alliance through the National Cancer Transformation Fund, which will support early diagnosis across West Yorkshire and Harrogate. The Curing Lung Cancer programme will be an integral part of that work.

Detailed implementation plans have yet to be developed and costed but will indicate the contribution in kind to be made by each of the partners, alongside the £900,000 to be invested by the Cancer Alliance.

Planning work will include the commissioning of CT scanning equipment; preparatory work with GPs and community services; recruitment of staff to carry out lung health checks and work with hospital teams.

Said Professor Duffy: “This is great news in relation to our fight to make more cancers curable and it’s fantastic to have the support of colleagues in the health and care systems in both Wakefield and Bradford – two areas where we know we can make a real impact on people’s lives and improve the experience of patients. There are also unacceptable variations in numbers of people presenting with lung cancer as an emergency and in the stage at which the disease is diagnosed.

“We are in the very early stages of this programme so it is also a huge opportunity for local communities and also NHS and social care staff to engage with us and to shape what we are trying to achieve.”

Welcoming the programme, Jo Webster, Chief Executive of Wakefield Clinical Commissioning Group said: “This is a hugely exciting partnership which will offer great benefits to patients across the Wakefield district.

“Lung cancer is one of the biggest killers across West Yorkshire, this programme and its four-pronged approach offers not only greater support for existing patients, it will enable earlier diagnosis of the disease and support education so people make better lifestyle choices.”

Rob Webster, Lead CEO of the Health and Care Partnership, said: “West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership is placing more emphasis on prevention, as well as investing in earlier diagnosis, new treatments and better support to help people live well beyond their cancer diagnosis.

“By working together, we have a much better chance of reducing the incidence of lung cancer, treating it more effectively and reducing the longer term impact on people’s lives.”