Health and care services across Wakefield and Bradford are looking to join forces in offering a new approach to delivering earlier diagnosis and reducing the prevalence of one of the region's biggest killers.

A four-pronged programme of work to tackle lung cancer across the two areas is being developed and led by the West Yorkshire and Harrogate Cancer Alliance - one of 19 Alliances around the country established to deliver significant improvements and world-class outcomes in cancer care and support.

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 as a result.

The four specific areas of the programme are:

  • 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 (so-called 'push and pull' approach)
  • 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

In January 2018, members of Wakefield’s Health and Wellbeing Board (HWBB) agreed the proposals put forward by Professor Sean Duffy – Clinical Lead for the West Yorkshire and Harrogate Cancer Alliance. 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. Read the January 2018 press release here.

Professor Duffy returned to update the HWBB in January 2019. Click here to read the progress report.

Professor Duffy has also presented to a development session of the Bradford Health and Wellbeing Board and discussions are continuing regarding next steps.

Our progress to date:

  • Smoking Cessation

An audit of current practice and support available for patients within the hospital Trusts across West Yorkshire and Harrogate has been completed. Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust is leading the way in its work towards creating a Smokefree NHS and we are working alongside the Trust and Wakefield Council's Tobacco Control Board to support their service in terms of raising awareness, facilitating carbon monoxide measurement for patients on the smoking cessation programme and supporting Trust staff to promote and expand the service using 'brief intervention' smoking cessation methodology.

  • Symptom Awareness and Promoting Lung Health Checks

In line with the Alliance commitment to partnerships with national cancer charities, we are delighted to be working with the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, benefiting from their experience and expertise in delivering awareness raising and marketing campaigns. Our campaign will also be developed through collaboration with communications professionals in our partner organisations. with a view to launching in Spring 2019 in the build up to the delivery of our first lung health check pilot - see below. The campaign will raise awareness of the health benefits of smoking cessation, what to look for as early stage symptoms, and encouraging patients to seek help earlier from their GP.

Click here to find out more about the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, the only UK charity to focus solely on lung cancer care.

  • Lung Heath Check and Low Dose CT Scans

Our lung health check pilot programme will target those individuals who are most likely to be at high risk of developing lung cancer. We will therefore focus on GP practice catchment areas which have high smoking rates and high levels of deprivation - both known to be closely associated with lung cancer risk.

A mobile low dose CT facility will be sited at an easily accessible venue within those local communities to encourage the participation of those patients who might not normally engage with health service providers, or who find it difficult to access existing services.

We are working with our colleagues in local Clinical Commissioning Groups to identify the areas where the pilot programme can potentially make the biggest difference; to determine how many checks can be delivered and the impact this will have on other NHS services required to provide the additional support that those tested may potentially need, whether or not they have a cancer diagnosis.

Ensuring there is the capacity to see and treat the patients who are referred on to the lung cancer pathway will be vital, and we are working with our partners in hospital Trusts, such as the Thoracic Surgery Service based in Leeds, to look at solutions.

Below: watch Bill's story (featured on the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation website) about his experience of a lung health check.

We are also working with Healthwatch Wakefield on measuring patient experience of the Lung Health Check pilot and associated Low Dose CT.

  • Lung Cancer Pathway Improvement

One of our key Alliance ambitions is that every cancer patient should have access to the same high quality diagnosis, treatment and care. irrespective of who they are or where they live.

We are working closely with colleagues in all the hospital Trusts across West Yorkshire and Harrogate to develop and enhance the lung cancer pathways which their patients follow, in line with the National Optimal Lung Cancer Pathway.

By improving access to early diagnosis, we will improve outcomes, increase one year survival rates and reduce the number of deaths under aged 75.