This week's Friday Five: 21/10/22


Ethnic minorities experience more barriers to cancer diagnosis

Results from a recent survey of cancer patients showed that primary care services have a long way to go in making the diagnosis of cancer easier for ethnic minorities.

The survey asked how many times patients had to speak to a healthcare professional at their GP practice about potential cancer symptoms. 6.6% of white cancer patients saw at least five primary care professionals before being diagnosed, this compares to 12% of asian patients and 13% of black patients.

Cancer alliances in London scored significantly higher than the national average on this metric, and researchers have suggested this may be due to a higher proportion of ethnic minorities in London.

Naser Turabi, Cancer Research UK’s director of cancer intelligence said: “Some studies have shown that people from ethnic minorities are less likely to get a referral by their GPs, due to factors like language barriers. Sustained focus on this part of the pathway is very welcome, as referral delays can contribute to late-stage diagnosis, when treatment is less effective.”

Read the full story in HSJ.


State of care report highlights the impact of gridlocked healthcare system

Today the CQC released its annual state of care report. The report highlights how the health and social care system is 'gridlocked' and that this is having a stark knock-on effect on patient care.

The report found that although social care services, GP practices, acute services and mental health services were all likely to be rated good or outstanding, there are issues and concerns about the safety of maternity care and autism and learning disability services and safeguarding of vulnerable people. The report also included findings from a survey which found that 41% of people aged 65 and over who had used health or social care services in the previous six months said their ability to carry out day-to-day activities had got worse while they were waiting. Throughout the report there are case studies of innovative approaches across the UK that are being used to ease pressures, and CQC leaders cite these as being the way out of the gridlock.


Kate Terroni, Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care, Integrated Care and Interim Chief Operating Officer, said: “In this report, we’ve highlighted examples of local innovation – joining up these pockets of innovation has the potential to help unblock the gridlock. However, this can only happen in conjunction with a real focus on planning, investment, and workforce."


Read the full report here.


Evaluation to assess if the government is meeting commitments for digital transformation


The government's health and social care select committee is launching an independent evaluation on the governments progress on NHS digitisation.

The evaluation will assess progress towards commitments made in four key areas, giving each area a rating from inadequate to outstanding. These are:

  • The care of patients and service users – including the NHS app, personalised digital care and integrated health and care records

  • The health of the population – including making patient data available for research in a safe and trustworthy way and de-identifying data on collection in general practice settings

  • Cost and efficiency of care – including contract methods and procurement

  • Workforce literacy and the digital workforce – including the national digital workforce strategy and growing the digital workforce

Professor Dame Jane Dacre, chair of the expert panel, said: “Digital solutions and technology have an opportunity to deliver faster and more effective care to patients as well as assist health and care workers in their jobs. We’ll be looking at commitments the government has made to digitise the NHS – essential if we are to provide personalised care in a resource-effective way."


Read the full story in Digital Health.


New NHS England operating framework

NHSE released their new operating framework which outlines how NHSE, ICBs and NHS providers will operate under the 2022 Health and Care Act.

The document describes ways of working, roles, accountabilities and responsibilities that will improve local health and care outcomes, in a way that maximises taxpayer value for money and supports the delivery of NHSE’s purpose. The eight key ways in which NHSE plan to add value to support the wider health and social care system are setting the direction, allocating resources, ensuring accountability, supporting and developing people, mobilising expert networks, enabling improvement, delivering services and driving transformation.

You can see an overview of the new operating framework here and read the full framework here.


Quote of the week:

A man with prostate cancer shares how being part of a clinical trial has given him valuable extra years of good health. Jim Thornhill, 81, was one of the first patients to be enrolled in the trial at The Christie in Manchester more than a decade ago. The treatment, abiraterone, stops the body producing testosterone and is given alongside the standard treatment for advanced prostate cancer.

He said: "I've enjoyed 11 years of good health, thanks to the clinical trial, and seen my grandsons grow up."

Read the full story in BBC News.