Clinicians from NHS Wales including Cwm Taf University Health Board took part in a fact finding visit to Aarhus last week to find out how the Danish health service is speeding up cancer diagnosis.
One of the key changes introduced in Denmark is a system where patients who do not have clear symptoms of a specific cancer are offered diagnostic tests within a few days, or sometimes hours of a GP making a referral.
Special “one stop shop” diagnostic centres have been set up for those with more vague symptoms, while other open access centres are able to provide quick ‘yes/no’ tests and to report back quickly to GPs. Clinicians in Denmark say the tests do not cost more money as they would need to be done anyway, but that early diagnosis for those with unclear symptoms means better outcomes for patients.
Clinicians in Cwm Taf have already adopted many of the principles of the Danish model including a ‘one stop’ neck lump diagnostic process and direct access to radiology investigation for breast lesions.
Cwm Taf is also piloting a single cancer pathway that combines the current urgent and non urgent suspected cancer pathways which aims to ensure that all patients presenting with possible symptoms of cancer are treated equally and promptly.
Following the visit to Denmark Cwm Taf clinicians now hope to build on its existing work and further test the other elements of the Danish model.
John Palmer, Director of Primary Care, Community Care and Mental Health at Cwm Taf University Health Board said: “I’m excited that having seen the work in Aarhus that there are enough of the elements in Cwm Taf already to test more of the Danish model.
Every single day, NHS Wales does amazing things, mainly through collaboration – our multi disciplinary teams deal with highly complex work and I feel strongly there are real opportunities to roll out this work.”
You can read more about the Danish model and the visit to Aarhus by the Wales Cancer Network and NHS Wales delegation here: