The Officer presented the report and explained to Members that this report had been produced as part of the core Public Health offer to the National Health Service (NHS) Thurrock Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) in recognition of the poor local performance standards that no patient with cancer waits longer than 62 days from an initial referral by their general practitioner. The report considered all elements of the cancer care pathway, from prevention, screening and the referral process through to diagnosis, treatment and survival.
Councillor Watkins asked Officers what level of screening was taking place with younger children and how could these be expanded to a wider audience, for example football clubs and as part of health checks in the work place. The Officer confirmed that a variety of programmes were being undertaken on the prevention of smoking and obesity and that the message of how important check-ups were.
Mandy Ansell stated that cervical screening was available at the weekend hubs in Thurrock undertaken by specialised nurses.
Councillor Watkins asked how General Practitioners were being monitored on the referral of patients. Mandy Ansell stated that General Practitioners were managed by NHS England but CCG had a dedicated team who looked at the range of indicators on the referral process and that they support practices to ensure they were performing and to monitor patient feedback.
Councillor Collins asked Officers what the cause of patients being diagnosed within Thurrock that generally survived for shorter periods of time compared to other locations. The Officer confirmed there were a variety of reasons but deprivation and early diagnosis impacted on the survival rates.
Councillor Collins questioned Officers on how the care pathway operated as part of the process. Mandy Ansell stated that the pathways spanned a number of hospitals and if there are bottlenecks in tests, for example, delays will occur. A group of CCGs including Thurrock were working together to understand what was happening as a wider issue and to look at the bottle-necking which was currently caused by an issue with workforce and general capacity and ensure that a seamless pathway was a high priority.
Councillor Collins asked if there was currently an organiser who could monitor these pathways. Mandy Ansell said processes were in place with multi-disciplinary teams and that nurses were able to track process but again it was down to workforce capacity for this to be done efficiently.
Councillor Snell stated that it appeared that some General Practitioners were below targets on under referring patients with suspected cancer in the two week wait pathway and questioned if it was the same general practitioners every time. Mandy Ansell stated that support mechanisms were in place and support for general practitioners was available.
Councillor Halden, Cabinet Member for Education and Health, stated existing General Practitioners must be held to account if under performing and in some cases, the need to name and shame.
The Chair thanked the Officer for an important report and asked what the Members of the Health and Wellbeing Overview and Scrutiny Committee can do to ensure that recommendations were moving forward and being changed as appropriate. The Officer stated that Members should keep asking difficult questions and keep on the Officer’s case for updates.
1. That the Health and Wellbeing Overview and Scrutiny Committee noted the contents of the report.
2. That the Health and Wellbeing Overview and Scrutiny Committee will support the work done by Public Health, CCG colleagues and other partners to improve cancer services and outcomes in Thurrock.
3. That Members agreed that a further report be brought back to Health and Wellbeing Overview and Scrutiny Committee in November 2016.