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Partnership offers hope to lung cancer patients

Lean Healthcare Academy : 08 April, 2010  (Company News)
A project designed by the Yorkshire Cancer Network and the Lean Healthcare Academy to enhance the journey for lung cancer sufferers across Yorkshire by identifying and eliminating wasteful practices within the region is delivering real improvements for patients.
Streamlining patient pathways and reducing diagnosis-to-treatment waiting times are key aims of a public and private sector partnership between the Yorkshire Cancer Network and the Lean Healthcare Academy.

The ultimate aim of the alliance, the scale of which is described as ground breaking within the NHS, is the earlier detection, diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer.

Based in Harrogate, the Yorkshire Cancer Network (YCN) is the umbrella organisation for 13 NHS trusts across the county who manage cancer services for their respective populations.

They comprise seven acute trusts Airedale, Bradford Teaching Hospitals, Calderdale and Huddersfield, Harrogate and District, Leeds Teaching Hospitals, Mid Yorkshire, and York and six primary care trusts, Bradford and Airedale Teaching, Calderdale, Kirklees, Leeds, North Yorkshire and York, and Wakefield.

YCN partners have struggled to consistently achieve national cancer waiting times targets of urgent referral to first treatment within 62 days.

However, they are now taking steps to redress the balance by working with the Lean Healthcare Academy, a leader in the field of training, implementation and sustaining improvement activities across the whole health economy. It is a standalone division of online training pioneer Virtual College, in Ilkley.

Seeking to improve the experience for both NHS staff and patients, YCN has embarked on a network-wide re-design of lung cancer pathways. Areas open to improvement have already been identified.

YCN’s Service Improvement Lead, Carol Ferguson, explained: “An incredible amount of work has been done by the lung cancer teams to improve their current pathways and some exciting steps have been taken”.

'Anticipation is high and Lean methodology has already helped to identify and eliminate considerable waste from within current processes”.

“Plenty of positives have emerged. The exercise has engendered a belief across the lung cancer teams that their pathways can be radically improved both from the clinicians’ and patients’ perspectives at the same time fostering an enthusiasm to make the changes actually happen”.

“Bringing teams together to share ideas and examples of best practice has also proved valuable, both motivating and facilitating them to quickly address problems within current pathways and develop radically improved future pathways that focus on the patient’s need and not clinical or administrative expediency”.

“There is little doubt that once these future pathways have been developed and implemented, they will consistently deliver - if not surpass - national cancer targets.”

Rob Webster, Chief Executive of NHS Calderdale and Chair of the YCN management board, said: “This programme is an excellent example of how clinicians and managers can be supported to deliver a higher quality service by reducing waste. The NHS will need to do more of this work if it is to meet its quality and productivity challenge.'

Wendy Gauntley, Manager of the Lean Healthcare Academy, which continues to champion Lean as a solution to many challenges facing the NHS, said: “Our pioneering work with the YCN has the potential to make a real difference to both NHS member providers across the county and lung cancer sufferers throughout Yorkshire and Humberside.

“We are confident it can be held aloft as a shining example of best practice well worthy of adoption by other cancer networks throughout the UK.

Yorkshire Cancer Network’s early Lean work has already been recognised, when the organisation won one of the top accolades at the 2009 Lean Healthcare Academy’s annual awards for excellence.
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