Patients with prostate cancer choosing care closer to home
21st February 2018 | By Liz Mattock | Posted in Cancer
An increasing number of patients in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland, who have received treatment for prostate cancer, are benefiting from a new option to receive care closer to home. Since the remote monitoring service was introduced in December 2016, almost 600 patients have chosen to have follow-up checks at their local GP practice, instead of having to go to hospital.
Previously all patients who had received treatment for prostate cancer were reviewed at hospital, but they are now given the option to have a blood test at their GP practice instead. Each test result is analysed at University Hospitals Leicester (UHL) to measure levels of PSA – prostate specific antigen – in the blood. If the PSA levels are normal, the patient receives a letter to confirm this, and a date is set for their next blood test. If the result shows that further investigation is needed, a specialist contacts the patient by telephone to discuss the result and invite them to hospital for an appointment.
Dr Paul Danaher, GP and clinical lead for cancer at Leicester City Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We are really pleased with the way this service is progressing. Under the original system, patients would attend the urology out-patients department at UHL and often had to wait for an hour or two, just to have a blood test and confirm that everything was as it should be. The remote monitoring service means patients can choose where to have their follow-up test and can be monitored locally.
Initially, in the first three months of the service, only 20 patients took up that option, but it has now proved to be really popular; with 240 patients between October and December 2017 opting for an appointment at their GP practice. Patients are clearly keen to receive care closer to home where possible and we always aim to put the patient at the heart of our commissioning decisions.”
Joanne Wortley, Clinical Nurse Specialist Urology/Oncology at Leicester’s Hospitals, said:
“The service provides patients with a guideline-based service to monitor their prostate cancer, managed through the InfoFlex cancer information system, which ensures there are processes in place to deliver efficient and safe monitoring.
“Patients have access to a prostate cancer clinical nurse specialist for any problems or queries that they may have and, if need be, the nurse can urgently re-refer the patient back into secondary care. This service provides patients with the security of knowing that they are being well cared for.
“As well as being more convenient for patients, it also frees up clinical time for us to see patients with possible cancer symptoms, who are waiting for a diagnosis.”
Timothy Mills, a retired BT Senior Technician from Leicester, is one of the patients who has received treatment at his local GP practice: “I was sent for a special scan at Glenfield Hospital to check the extent of the spread of the cancer. Within a week I was given the diagnosis of advanced prostate cancer and had the course of treatment explained to me.
“This involves hormone injections at 90 day intervals with a blood test taken simultaneously. These take place at my local GP surgery which I find very convenient and helpful. The results of these are sent to the Urology department at Leicester General. This is part of the remote monitoring service under which I am now placed.
“A dedicated specialist nurse, in my case, Jo Wortley contacts me after each blood test and talks to me about my condition, during which I can ask questions and find out how things are. I find this a great comfort, just knowing that there is someone at the end of a phone line if you have any worries or concerns makes a real difference and helps me cope with the stress I sometimes feel under.”