As part of our Trust’s recovery from the pandemic and our focus on resuming planned care, we have launched a Rapid Diagnostic Centre (RDC) to promote faster diagnosis for patients with vague symptoms or signs suggestive of cancer.
GPs can refer patients to the RDC if they suspect they have possible symptoms of cancer that require further investigation by a specialist team in hospital. This allows the issue to be investigated at an early stage, and if needed, the patient can be treated quickly and effectively.
Jo Johnson, the RDC Strategy and Operations Manager, explains why the service was introduced: “The impact of Covid has meant that many patients have been reluctant or unable to see their GP in person, and so we are seeing increasing numbers of patients who have had non-specific symptoms for a long period of time who need urgent management.”
The RDC, an NHS England initiative funded by the North East London Cancer Alliance, provides primary care with a tailored cancer pathway for patients with vague symptoms who do not fit into a specific cancer pathway.
Emphasising the benefits of the new service, Jo said: “The RDC is unique, as unlike site specific pathways where patients who are not found to have a diagnosis of cancer are referred back to their GP, patients are managed to a diagnostic outcome, with a referral onto the relevant specialist service.”
The new service will operate at both Queen’s and King George hospitals.
Luigi De Michele (pictured) our dedicated RDC consultant, explains what this means for patients attending our services: “The RDC provides a one stop clinic and so patients who are referred to us are given the assurance that their symptoms will be fully investigated to provide them with an outcome and management plan.
“Many of our patients are highly anxious and have a number of problems that are impacting their quality of life and wellbeing. We work alongside the clinical teams within the Trust so they can be transferred for ongoing treatment quickly and seamlessly.”
This has a specific focus on patient experience and the quality of care. Patients are contacted as soon as we receive the referral to be introduced to their care team, who explain the process, and ensure they have all the information and support they need to attend their appointments and tests.
Luigi added: “We treat the whole person and support them throughout their diagnostic journey, keeping their GP fully informed at all times, which improves communication and enhances their support in the community.”
Jo explained the importance of the initiative in relation to our recovery: “By providing this service, we also hope to reduce the burden on the site-specific pathways by reducing inappropriate referrals.
“This will mean we are able to reduce multiple hospital attendances and ensure they are given timely targeted treatment.”
Patient experience and feedback will be at the heart of developing the new service, with their views being directly incorporated into the RDC.
Luigi said: “Patient satisfaction feedback from existing RDC Services shows that patients who are managed this way express high levels of satisfaction and lower levels and anxiety.
“We will be closely monitoring and responding to our patient satisfaction to ensure that we are able to provide high quality care and adapt to feedback as we grow.”
A reminder of the common symptoms of cancer:
• Changes in bowel habits, including blood in your wee and/or poo
• Unexplained weight loss
• A lump
• Persistent bloating
• Pain that does not go away
It’s important that anyone who suspects they have a possible cancer symptom must make an appointment to see their GP and get it checked out.
Luigi added: “Please be reassured that despite the pandemic, we can care for you safely. Cancer is much easier to treat if it is found early, so please do not put off going to see your GP in the first instance.”
Download the RDC Patient Information Leaflet below, which includes contact details for the dedicated team: