Revolution in child cancer diagnosis eases anxiety for patients and families

Published: 27th May 2022
Children with cancer symptoms are being diagnosed faster thanks to ground-breaking telemedicine technology and better guidelines – easing the anxiety for them and their families.
  • Consultant Connect tech & new guidelines are behind quicker diagnosis
  • 3 in 5 calls between GPs and consultants led to unneeded referrals being avoided
  • University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust pioneering new system that can be rolled out nationwide at speed      

Children with cancer symptoms are being diagnosed faster thanks to ground-breaking telemedicine technology and better guidelines – easing the anxiety for them and their families.

A phone and app system that connects GPs to consultants in just 25 seconds – bypassing the hospital switchboard – has dramatically sped up determining if a child has cancer.

Leading telemedicine provider Consultant Connect launched the service with University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust in November.

Three in five of all calls between GPs and consultants led to the patient and their family finding out in the GP’s surgery that they didn’t have cancer, resolving an otherwise anxious wait.

But young patients with symptoms that consultants are concerned about are fast-tracked for specialist treatment in as little as 48 hours.

The technology took just two weeks to set up in the trust and has the potential to be rolled out across the UK.

Dr Kim Neuling, Consultant Paediatrician at the trust, said:

“The new pathway will speed up the referral process and allow us to gather any extra information at the time of the referral.

 

“This means that together with primary care we can reduce unnecessary hospital visits and reduce anxiety for families of well children. In addition, it means that we can share the responsibility of the ‘watchful waiting’ process with GPs.”

Calls from GPs are monitored by Dr Neuling and a cancer-specialist and they are backed up by acute general paediatricians. Referrals are generated on a messaging system which enables a discussion between the consultant and the GP. Everything is recorded and complies with information governance regulations.

Dr Hazel Blanchard, GP Partner at Forrest Medical Centre in Coventry, said:

“Knowing that you can immediately speak to a consultant to get that sense check and tell the patient and their family at the same time is invaluable. It’s like a safety net.”

The technology has combined seamlessly with updated “two week wait” referral guidelines for suspected cancer in children issued in April last year by the Children’s Cancer and Leukaemia Group (CCLG) and endorsed by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.

Jonathan Patrick, CEO of Consultant Connect, said:

“Not knowing if your child has cancer is one of the most traumatic ordeals a parent can go through. We’re delighted that our technology is reducing that anxiety in Coventry and Warwickshire while speeding up the treatment for urgent cases. We would love to help more NHS trusts.”

 

We recently hosted a webinar about the new Paediatrics Suspected Childhood Cancer (2WW) Pathway. Speakers from the CCLG, West Midlands Cancer Alliance and Dr Neuling and Dr Blanchard shared insight into implementing the new pathway via Consultant Connect, key learnings to date and future plans. Access the recording and related materials.

In this case study, clinicians share how the new pathway enabled a teenage patient with suspected cancer to be seen within two days by Paediatrics.

If you have any questions or would like more information about how this pathway could benefit your area, email hello@consultantconnect.org.uk or call 01865 261 467.

 

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